“SOA” means lots of little explosions all over your company

As an old programmer and wanna-be geek, I must say that I think distributed systems are way cool.

But, for the life of me, I can't make heads-or-tails of the idea of SOA in CAD and PLM as promulgated by Dassault.

Their "vision" of SOA seems to be about breaking down very-high-function client applications so they can be hosted on WebSphere. Well, that's great for IBM, of course, but it doesn't seem to make any logical sense to me. None at all.

CAD designs aren't "processes" that exist out on some network somewhere that — for scalability reasons — need to be repeatedly called or which need grid-level hardware support to be executed in small little pieces. After all, engineers sit at a machine and design things. Does anyone really want to have their design app split into demi-functions and executed all over the network? I doubt it.

How resistant are CAD users to this? Well, name one…just one…ASP for CAD that's succeeded. If nobody will remote even the entire CAD app, who in their right mind would remote pieces of it?

OK, you say, SOA isn't about CAD, but about PLM. Well, aside from the fact that (excuse me for being blunt) PLM is just more stuff for inside the engineering group, how would SOA solve the problems of "openness" and "collaboration?" Is putting WebSphere into the mix — in effect putting a programmable environrment into the enterprise — going to solve the problem of users not having access to 3D data for service procedures or marketing brochures? Clearly, the answer is no.

What does solve the problem, what does enhance collaboration, is direct end-user access to a secure, massively fungible derivative of the 3D design data, delivered in a way that makes sense that user in the role they are performing for the business.

It just blows me away (and can blow up your organization) that anyone takes seriously this talk about devolving CAD into SOA.  Sure, because Dassault and IBM say so, people will consider it. But there's just no there there.

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