IONA CTO, Eric Newcomer, and I had to laugh when we recalled the panels we've sat on together and (somewhat pedantically) debated the merits of IONA Artix and Progress' Sonic. We shared the religion of distributed systems, alright, but we argued about them like we belonged to different sects. That's because a matter of principle—architectural principle—was at stake. In the highly-distributed SOA environment, what's the preferred approach: smart end-points or smart networks? Like all religious arguments, this one had a lot to do with up-bringing—and the particular tool we were both holding in our hand at the time.
Eric, coming from a CORBA heritage, had a natural affinity for the smart end-point approach, which IONA had successfully commercialized. On the other hand, I saw the problem through the prism of an enterprise messaging background and argued for smart networks—the solution Sonic had chosen to build. The schism, however, proved to be as nonsensical as the RPC vs. MOM religious wars of the early 90's. In our hearts I think we both felt that the argument was a bit contrived. We always knew that both models were valid—like a hammer and a screwdriver they are tools that address different needs. Neither replaces the other and they are rarely interchangeable. When you need the flexibility to put intelligence in the network (and can't or don’t want to change your endpoints), then the smart network approach is great. And, the converse is true too: when the network (or networks, for that matter) is a given, and I'm looking to service-enable a variety of endpoints, then the smart endpoint approach is perfect. The fly in the ointment all along was the decision we baked into our respective architectures at design-time.
Like a tattoo, you had better be sure you liked it—as CTOs, our mission was to defend it at all cost. But that's all changing now that new standards like Spring and OSGi give us the flexibility we need to defer those decisions to deployment time, where they always belonged. And thus a doorway is opened—a doorway to the best of both worlds!
SOA What? Bringing IONA and Progress together means that we can dispense with the pedantic debates and truly offer our customers the best of both approaches. It's a great time to be working in this industry, and fantastic to be joining forces with IONA. But, now what will Eric and I argue over? Well, there’s always emacs vs. vi!
By the way, if you haven't had a chance to hear what Eric Newcomer, CTO of IONA, has to say about the Progress acquisition of IONA,
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