Saturday, May 09, 2009

End-of-time Prophecies on Middleware, SOA, ESB and else

When Nostradamus pronounced and published his famous prophecies in the 16th century he did not need to worry about target consumer categories. His predictions - some of them interpreted as end-of-time prophecies or just plagues, earthquakes, etc. - where all-encompassing. Unfortunately, none of his writing was ever interpreted as predicting an event before it actually ocurred. :-)

So, what about those target consumer categories? I came across these when reading an excellent article by Steve Vinoski with the title "Is Middleware Dead? (IEEE Internet Computing, vol. 8, no. 4, 2004, pp. 94-96). This article is also about predictions -- in the technology and market domain this time.

Steve Vinoski wrote this article in response to "The End of Middleware", where Jonathan Schwartz of Sun touted middleware to be dead. The assumption behind this pronounciation: everybody would use Sun's Java Enterprise System then there would be no need to integrate with other middlewares. Of course, it did not pan out this way.

Similar pronouncements about the death of CORBA, SOA, ESB and many other technologies have been made. Steve points out that such predictions frequently do not take the target consumer category into account. According to Crossing the Chasm, there are five such categories in a technology adoption lifecycle (- innovators, - early adopters, - early majority, - late majority, - laggards).

When an "early adopter" feels that a certain technology is dead -- it may be alive and kicking from the point of view of the "laggard". One-size-fits-all solutions are therefore impossible. Where are ESBs on that adoption bell curve? Pretty much at (or slightly after) the peak, I'd say.

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Herbjörn Wilhelmsen said...

And where is SOA?

Thomas Rischbeck said...

SOA is dead :-)

No, seriously: I feel that even the late majority has now jumped onto the SOA bandwagon. With the laggards coming on board, the end is neigh!

Maybe it's even wrong to apply the bell curve to SOA -- since SOA is an architectural style and not a technology per se (but then it was included in previous Gartner hype cycles).