An SOA Evolution, Insurance Edition

The Technologies Seeking to Usurp the SOA Standards
by Craig Beattie, August 24, 2011
Industry Trends
Global, Asia-Pacific, EMEA, Latin America, North America

Abstract

Is SOA fit for the next decade? With the rise of new companies dealing with massive scale and performance issues, SOAP and WS-* are being challenged as the leading methods of integrating IT systems. Are SOAP and WS-* good enough? What problems highlight the weaknesses of these standards, now widely adopted among insurers? What are the alternatives?

In a new report, An SOA Evolution: The Technologies Seeking to Usurp the SOA Standards, Celent reviews SOA’s, origins, history, and current state. In addition Celent looks at the new approaches vying for developer attention including Facebook’s Thrift and Google ProtocolBuffers. What problems do these solve that SOA did not?

This report examines the new problems facing the IT industry and why developers are finding alternatives to the standards underlying many software implementations aligned to SOA. Celent examines some of the alternatives that are gaining ground and finds SOA is not dead, but rather evolving as the industry responds to a new set of challenges.

Why aren’t SOAP and WS-* one-size-fits-all solutions?

  • It’s expensive to parse a SOAP message in JavaScript on a mobile web browser.
  • Sending even moderately sized data files in SOAP can double the size of the message and requires
    considerable computing power to process at the other end.
  • SOAP-based web services offer little direction in service design and little support for using common data items.

“For insurers, SOA, SOAP, and WS-* are certainly not dead, but perhaps there’s something to learn from the alternatives,” says Craig Beattie, Analyst with Celent’s Insurance group and author of the report. “Over the next three to five years, the standards surrounding SOA, SOAP, and WS-* should move towards a much lighter framework.”

Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

Media Contacts

North America
Michele Pace
mpace@celent.com
Tel: +1 212 345 1366

Europe (London)
Chris Williams
cwilliams@celent.com
Tel: +44 (0)782 448 3336

Asia (Tokyo)
Yumi Nagaoka
ynagaoka@celent.com
Tel.: +81 3 3500 3023

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

3

The State of SOA, SOAP, and WS-*

4

 

Defining SOA Through Standards

5

 

What Problem Was SOA Trying to Fix?

5

 

The Core Standards

6

 

The Structure of the WS-* Standards

6

 

Drivers for Change

7

 

Consumer Vs. Enterprise

8

 

User Interface Technologies

9

 

Mobile

10

 

Cloud and Big Data

10

 

Drivers for Change

11

Popular Alternatives to WS-*

12

 

Resource-Oriented Architecture and the REST Approach

12

 

Leveraging HTTP: The Language of the Web

12

 

REST and HTTP

13

 

CORBA and HTTP

14

 

Facebook Thrift and Google Protocol Buffers

14

 

Microsoft Windows Communication Framework

15

 

Emerging Apache AVRO

15

 

Emerging Semantic Web and Web 3.0

15

The Insurance Industry and SOA

16

 

Will Insurers Really Leave SOA?

17

 

SOA Best Practices in Brief

18

 

API Design

18

 

Data Quality

18

 

Governance

19

Implications for Insurers

20

 

New Developers for New Approaches?

21

 

What Does This Mean for Procurement?

22

 

Conclusion

22

Leveraging Celent’s Expertise

23

 

Support for Financial Institutions

23

 

Support for Vendors

23

Related Celent Research

24

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