SCA is not just for code portability

(updated on 2007/10/4, see bottom of the article)

David Chappell (not the same person as the Oracle-employed Dave Chappell from my previous post) has a blog entry explaining why there would be little value if Microsoft implemented SCA. The entry is reasonable but, like this follow-up by Stephan Tilkov, it focuses on clarifying the difference between portability (for which SCA helps) and interoperability (for which SCA doesn’t help very much). Seeing it from the IT management point of view, I see another advantage to SCA: it’s a machine readable description of the logic of the composite application, at a useful level of granularity for application and service management. This is something I can use in my application infrastructure to better understand relationships and dependencies. It brings the concepts of the application world to a higher level of abstraction (than servlets, beans, rows etc), one in which I can more realistically automate tasks such as policy propagation, fail-over automation, impact analysis, etc.

As a result, even if this was an Oracle-only technology, I would still be encouraging Greg and others to build it in the Oracle app server so that I can better managed applications written on that stack. And I would still encourage the Oracle Fusion applications to take advantage of it, for the same reason.

In that perspective, going back to Dave Chappell’s question, would there be value if Microsoft implemented SCA? I think so. It would make it a lot easier for me, and all the management vendors, to efficiently manage composite applications that have components running on both Microsoft and Oracle, for example. I believe Microsoft will need a component model for composite applications and I am sure Don Box has his ideas on this (he’s not yet ready to share his opinion on Dave’s question as you can see). I know of the SML-based work that is being driven by the System Center guys at Microsoft and they see SML as playing that role across applications and infrastructure. I don’t know how much they’ve convinced Don and others that this is the right way.

From an IT management perspective, portability of code doesn’t buy me very much. Portability of my ability to introspect composite applications and consume their metadata independently of the stack they are built on, on the other hand, is of great value. Otherwise we’ll only be able to build automated and optimized application and service management software for the Oracle stack. Which, I guess, would not be a bad first step…

[UPDATE on 2007/10/4] If this topic is of interest to you, you might want to go back to some of the links above to read the comments. David Chappell and I had a little back-and-forth in the comments section of his post, and so with Don Box in his post. In addition, Hartmut Wilms at InfoQ provides his summary of the discussion.]


Filed under Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Portability, SCA