Home SOAP is Not Dead – It’s Undead, a Zombie in the Enterprise

SOAP is Not Dead – It’s Undead, a Zombie in the Enterprise

SOAP is dead. No it’s not. SOAP is undead.

And the undead still inhabit the enterprise… in a big way.

I’m at Gluecon, the kind of event where passionate developers gather. These are people who for the most part never use SOAP. They work with REST – undoubtedly the king of all APIs.

John Musser of Programmable Web set the context yesterday when he gave his address about the “State of the API,” a discussion he also led last year at Gluecon.

His presentation showed that 73% of the APis on Programmable Web use REST. SOAP is far behind but is still represented in 17% of the APIs.

But outside Gluecon’s passionate circle of developers, SOAP is still used inside many an enterprise. So why is SOAP undead?

Clay Loveless presented “The Failure of SOAP” at Gluecon. Loveless is the former CTO at Mashery. He is now launching a startup called Jexy.com, which will provide integration services for developers.

He cited SOAP’s complexity and the vendor wars that made tool chains a nightmare. The problem is that companies are still dependent on internal systems that have not modernized. They are dependent on SOAP. Investments have been made.

“All the tools, hires, licenses & codebase has been built around SOAP for a decade,” Loveless wrote on Twitter. “Hard to turn on a dime.”

SOAP’s complexity also explains why many enterprises have been slow to move to Web Oriented Architectures.

I asked Michael Cote of RedMonk for his opinion about why SOAP is still used in the enterprise: “Existing applications that use it and Enterprise Architects who still want to enforce a top-down, well, architecture with it.”

But the current API movement is somewhat fractured. Every developer has their own way of implementing APIs. Monica Wilkinson of Socialcast said to me today that Activity Streams and authentication have standardized to some extent. That trend will continue based upon demand.

There are other issues, too, that come with REST APIs. At Gluecon, JNBridge the release of JNBridgePro 6.0, which enables developers to access both .NET-based and Java-based cloud services and APIs from ground or cloud-based clients written in the other platform. It also allows for the development of cloud-based services and APIs that incorporate both Java and .NET-based components.

Cote was quoted in the company’s press release. What he says deserves notice from the most passionate of developers:

“As enterprise development teams start including cloud technologies in their applications, incompatible cloud platforms and APIs will be a huge road block,” said Michael Cote, analyst at RedMonk. “We’re already seeing a clamoring for tools and services that integrate this spaghetti bowl of end-points, and they’re only going to become more important to realizing the benefits of cloud development.”

In the meantime, SOAP is not dead by any means. It’s undead and will remain that way for some time to come.

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