A group of 18 software vendors are about to hand over service-oriented architecture specifications to independent standards body Oasis, in a bid to ease integration of third-party products.

Till now, the lack of SOA standards has undermined the promise of SOA, by making integration of third-party products difficult. The Open SOA Collaboration , which includes otherwise-competing companies such as BEA Systems, IBM, Iona Technologies, Oracle, Red Hat, SAP, Sun Microsystems and Xcalia, intends to meet this need by giving specifications to standards bodies.

The group has said it will hand over jointly developed Service Component Architecture (SCA) and non-Java C++ Service Data Objects (SDO) specifications to the Oasis standards body for further development. They will turn over their Java SDO specification work to the Java Community Process (JCP), the group that sets Java standards. The Java SDO work originated in JCP in 2003.

SCA focuses on defining models to create and assemble service components to build SOAs, while SDO aims to provide a consistent method for data handling within SOA applications.

The SCA specifications include full support for BPEL (business process execution language), the Spring Java development framework, Java and C++.
The specifications also include an assembly model describing how SOA components interact with each other so that the developers, assemblers and deployers of individual components can deal with a consistent model, according to Michael Bechauf, vice president of industry standards at SAP AG.

"This is a big step forward for our customers," said Karla Norsworthy, vice president, software standards at IBM. "We're very pleased with the maturity of the specifications."

When the initial members of the Open SOA Collaboration first got together in November 2005, they promised to work on specifications to define a language-neutral programming model for SOA application development and to formally submit those specifications once they reached a mature state. The Collaboration has always been careful to brand itself as an informal coming together of vendors and not a standards body.

After the specifications have been formally submitted to Oasis, the standards body will establish several new technical committees, according to Patrick Gannon, president and CEO of Oasis. Those committees should start holding their first meetings some time in June, he said.

Further specification work is ongoing within the Open SOA Collaboration, according to Jeff Mischkinsky, director of Oracle Fusion middleware and Web services standards at Oracle. The work due to take place over the coming year includes adding an event module to SCA and support in SDO for the C and Cobol programming languages.