Although sometimes seen as a jumble of social networking applications and services, Web 2.0 is actually helping to reduce the cost of building composite applications and bring SOA concepts to a broader audience.
This was one of the insights provided by John Turek, the director of the IBM China Emerging Technology Institute and one of the keynote presenters at the recent IBM Programming Languages and Development Environments Seminar, held at the IBM Haifa Research Lab.
Turek shared center stage at the seminar along with Naftaly Minsky of Rutgers University. The theme of the seminar was service-oriented computing (SOC), and in his keynote talk "Service-Oriented Computing: from Anarchy to Order", Minsky presented a set of principles for regulating the autonomous components of SOC-based systems.
Dozens of representatives from Israel's leading universities and software engineering firms attended the event, including researchers and developers from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University, Intel, BMC, Comverse, and the Israel Defense Forces.
Service-oriented computing is an umbrella term for distributed computing and e-business processing. Many Web 2.0 applications exploit this technology, especially those based on service-based architecture, or SOA, which is also a very hot topic of research in universities.
According to Yael Dubinsky, an IBM Haifa researcher who co-organized the seminar with fellow researcher Yishai Feldman, focusing the event on SOC technologies enabled a comprehensive discussion on software and business issues.
"Web services are becoming increasingly important to technology developers and Internet users," she noted. "In particular, businesses are using service-oriented architecture as a way to define business services and create a structure for meeting enterprise requirements. This growing trend is something we felt was important to focus on."
One of the most interesting and collaborative aspects of the event was the world cafe session. Labeled "a guided collaborative activity to discuss main issues in service-oriented computing", the session took conference participants out of the lecture hall at the end of the day and allowed them to meet their peers in small groups. For 90 minutes, seminar attendees sat around paper-covered tables and discussed ideas that had been scrawled on flip charts throughout the day in an informal, engaging manner.
"The world cafe was a really exciting, peer-based part of the event," Dubinsky noted. "I think some of the freshest and most innovative ideas presented at the conference were really developed and expanded on in those small groups. More importantly, the cafe setup gave all seminar participants a chance to present their ideas and hear feedback from their peers."
The seminar presentations and the world cafe summary can be found on the seminar web site.