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Middle ground in SOA design debate?

In the somewhat rarified community of software architects, a debate over how to modernize today's computing systems is taking shape.

On Monday, Blue Titan, which sells infrastructure software for running an SOA network, released a product designed to appeal to both ends of the argument.

The question is: what is the best way to build a services-oriented architecture--should it be a top-down or a bottoms-up approach? A services-oriented architecture, or SOA, is a way to design applications so that individual components, such as credit approval program, can be used in many places and combined with other services.

Top-down would be a well organized, big picture design--perhaps led by the company CIO--to organize and optimize a company's applications infrastructure. A bottom-up approach would be more ad hoc.

Blue Titan executives said that the latest release of its Network Director product and a new version with built-in reliable messaging will help companies tackle their SOA projects in a more "strategic" fashion. Its software acts a traffic cop, enforcing company policies, such as security and application performance.

The features it has added recognize that companies may be dipping their toes into the world of Web services protocols and application reuse without a bigger plan in mind. For example, Blue Titan's software can accommodate applications that use different protocols version, such as SOAP 1.1 and 1.2.

Maybe this top-down versus bottoms-up debate has some middle ground.