To the various conservation laws from physics (e.g. of energy and of momentum), one can add the law of conservation of hype. In the IT industry, as in others, there is only so much bandwidth for over-hyped concepts. Old ones have to move out of the limelight to make room for new ones, independently of their usefulness.
Here is this law, I think, illustrated in action. After running a Google Trends report on “web services”, “SOA”, “virtualization” and “cloud computing”, I downloaded the underlying data and added one line: the total search volume across all four terms. Here is the result:
The black line, “total”, is remarkably flat (if you ignore the annual Christmas-time drop). There is a surge in late 2007 for both WS and SOA that I can’t really link to anything (Microsoft first announced Oslo around that time, but I doubt this explains it). Other than this, there is a nice continuity that seems to graphicaly support the following narrative:
Web services were the hot thing in the beginning of the decade among people who sell and buy corporate IT systems. Then the cool kids decided that Web services were just an implementation technology but what matters is the underlying pattern. So “SOA” became the word to go after. Just ask Sys-con: exit “Web Services Journal”, hello “SOA World magazine”. Meanwhile “virtualization” has been slowly growing and suddenly came Cloud computing. These two are largely an orthogonal concern from the SOA/WS pair but it doesn’t matter. Since they interest the same people, the law of conservation of hype demands that room be made. So down goes SOA.
The bottom line (and the reason why I ran these queries on Google Trends to start with) is that I feel that application integration and architecture concerns have been pushed out of the limelight by Cloud computing, but that important work is still going on there (some definition work and a lot of implementation work). Work that in fact will become critical when Cloud computing grows out of its VM-centric adolescent phase. I plan to write more entries about this connection (between Cloud computing and application architecture) in the future.
[Side note: I also put this post in the crazyStats category because I understand that by carefully picking the terms you include you can show any trend you want for the “total”. My real point is not about proving “the law of conservaton of hype” (though I believe in it). Rather, it is captured in the previous paragraph.]