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Software Cycles: Back to Interoperability

An excerpt from Mark Little’s blog on JBoss.com:

The software industry goes through cycles in just the same way as other industries. Back in the early 1980s, we were working on defining distributed systems with work on RPC, stub generators, naming services, transactions, security etc. A lot of work was done by vendors and academia. Interoperability or portability were not considered important.

In the 1990s, we started to look at interoperability through CORBA (portability was still mostly a nice-to-have until the end of the century). When Java and J2EE came on the scene, portability took center stage and interoperability between heterogeneous implementations dropped away unless you wanted to embed a CORBA ORB in your application server. Now we’re into the Web Services age and interoperability is king. Portability has nothing to do with Web Services specifications or standards bodies. That’s the domain of implementation and other organizations such as JCP. It can often be a strange and inefficient approach. At least with CORBA you eventually got interoperability between different implementations, languages and portability in the same package. With Web Services, you get interoperability out-of-the-box as soon as you implement (assuming you conform to the specifications and understand what they say, or don’t say). But portability may not come for months or years!

Red Hat/JBoss is heavily into portability, interoperability and standards compliance. Over the past years, we’ve been looking out for any opportunities to help out customers in these areas: joining the Interoperability Vendor Alliance, participating in a range of Web Services events, and working on standards committees such as WS-BPEL, WS-TX, WS-Addressing and WS-Policy. Standards compliance is critically important for us and our customers: we want to avoid a return to the bad days of vendor lock-in. We take interoperability as a must when developing our products. When it’s treated as a second thought, it’s often difficult to retro-fit for existing customers. Portability is a given because of our strong support for JEE.

See the remainder of the blog here.