Sunday, 26 July 2009

SOAP doesn't solve anything - a deep dive

In my last two blogs, I've talked about SOAP and its (lack of) contribution to IT in the last decade. I've also written about the basics of routing and enveloping

At last, I've touched upon the fundamental question: what if your envelope isn't equal to mine?

Well, as said before, the answer to that is simple: wrap it in your own envelope. Everyone does it.

Not only IRL with global mail procedures and systems, but queueing systems like Websphere MQ couldn't
live without that. When you put a message on a queue, the queueing system knows where it should go because you configured it that way; it wraps its own envelope around the binary (message and / or envelope - it just doesn't matter), and fires it off. At the destination point, it unwraps the binary by removing the envelope, and spits it out in the destination queue

Receive, read envelope, wrap, send, unwrap, it sounds simple, and it can be. But what if you need to get hold of the message in between? There will be two envelopes wrapped around it, one which is your own, and another one which is 'foreign'

The answer to that is, yet again, simple: translate. If someone is speaking to you in a language, dialect or even accent you can't understand well enough, there's a need for translation. Of course it would be easy if we all understood eachother but that's a matter of (business) content rather than (technical or physical) packages in which the message is wrapped

Large (global) enterprises can just dictate the way they're addressed: "here's the functional choices, and oh btw this is the proper technical form in which they should be placed". I'll explain in another blog the why and what of standardisation, but let me assure you for now that there are always exceptions to the rule: sometimes you'll just have to adapt

Have your own enterprise envelope. If you don't have one, create one. my previous blog shows you what it takes to define an envelope, and really, "it ain't much". It is recommended to leave a repeating group so you can (datetime-)stamp that same envelope just like the oldfashioned mail system does, in order to know where it's been; if it falls of the wagon, it will contain its full state and it can just be slammed back into the system

Translate any envelope towards your own, or rely on the current SOAP standards to fulfill your needs enterprise-wide for the next 5 to 10 years to come - you know my advice on that!

A collaboration incentive on the wiki is my first move towards a global IT enterprise envelope. Please participate and let's take matters into our own very knowledgeable and experienced hands!

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