Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Food-Oriented Lunch...

In the world of massively complicated and expensive-to-run mobile operator networks, it is difficult to develop and deliver new services. An operator network, just like any other, is lots of computers and databases. These might be configured as switches, as text messaging centres (passing your message from your phone to another), as radio controllers, and all kinds of disparate functions. Most of these computers and databases have their own way of describing the information they contain and their own way of conveying it (i.e. protocols).

Most interesting services, such as some of the ones I have blogged about here in my 100-ideas series of postings, require a bit of this and a bit of that from the various disparate systems in the mobile network. This problem is not unique to mobile networks. Many networks in all kinds of businesses have similar problems.

Now it is inconceivable to write a software program that is going to run "across" the network on the various systems in order to achieve the service being sought, such as a push-to-taxi-air-tagging-cellular-socks service with cream on it!

However, what if we could write a "program" sitting somewhere in a network that asks all these disparate systems to do a bit of this (service A) and a bit of that (service B) and pass me back the results to co-ordinate (Orchestrate) a meaningful user service on behalf of a user. This "new" approach is called Service Orientated Architecture (SOA).

"Ah-ha!" I hear you say. "Isn't that obvious?".....
"Hasn't that been done already?"..."Surely, that's been done before!"....
"Wait a minute...isn't that what happens already?"

The answer is......


However, the way it is now being done is new and there is also a very important and strategic move within the operator world to develop the "platform" bit that glues all the services (bit of this, bit of that) together. These are called Service Delivery Platforms (SDP). They are important because it means there's potentially a single unified approach to developing and delivering new services, with greater speed and lower cost.

However, as with all these things, we have to cut through the usual barrage of buzzwords and separate out the chaff from the wheat, or the reality from the marketing hype. I found this comment on this blog about SOA very amusing...

I've decided that saying "Service-Oriented Architecture" is like saying "Food-Oriented Lunch" -- it sure sounds good when you're hungry, but you still have to decide how much you can afford to spend on it, which restaurant you're going to, and what you're going to order. And you still have to wonder whether or not you're going to have a massive case of food-poisoning afterwards. Show me an actual menu -- then I'll tell you if I'm impressed.

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