Tag Archives: SOAP

REST is Simple, But Simple is not REST

Last December, William Vambenepe posted a provocative blog entry about RESTful APIs in the cloud. In it, he states that Amazon proves that REST doesn’t matter for Cloud APIs. Writing over at InfoQ, Mark Little re-ignited the controversy in his recent post asking Is REST important for Cloud? And Vambenepe responded to the re-invigorated commentary in Cloud APIs are like Military Parades. All of these posts are very much worth reviewing, and be sure to read the comments left by members of the community.

Amazon’s query APIs are certainly not textbook examples of the RESTful architectural style, a point the Restafarians are quick to make. But they are simple, understandable, and very easy to implement, which is largely the set of characteristics that attracted developers to REST in the first place. REST does have a satisfying elegance and undeniable philosophical appeal, but accessibility probably counts for more in the popularity stakes. If there is one theme that repeats throughout the history of computing, surely it is the story of simple and good enough winning the day.

Amazon’s APIs are not the reason that AWS is such a resounding success; it is the service offering that was responsible for that. However, the APIs were good enough that they didn’t hinder Amazon’s success, and this is the relevant point. Dig a little deeper, though, and Amazon’s API story offers some interesting insights.

Amazon, it turns out, is a good case study illustrating the evolution of Internet APIs. When AWS first appeared, Amazon engineers faced what at the time was an unresolved question of style: should a cloud publish SOAP services, or RESTful APIs? I’ve heard that question led to some pretty heated internal debates, and I don’t doubt this is true. Amazon lies in Microsoft’s backyard, and .NET in those days was very firmly in the SOAP camp. REST, however, was rapidly gaining mind share, especially due to the growing popularity of AJAX in Web 2.0 apps.

The engineer’s solution was to hedge, producing a mix of SOAP, a “REST-like” query (HTTP with query params as NVPs), and REST APIs somewhat in parallel. Developers gravitated toward the later two options so much more than SOAP that AWS left the orbit of WS-* for good. Amazon gave the market choice, and the market spoke decisively. This was an interesting experiment, and in performing it Amazon actually led the way—as they have in so many ways—for future cloud providers. Each new provider had the luxury of an answer to the question of API style: REST won (even if this wasn’t really REST). Now all an emerging cloud provider needed to do was to design their API according to current best practices, and this is something for which experience counts. Roy Fielding’s thesis may have come out in 2000, but the appreciation of what constitutes good RESTful design among developers is a much more recent phenomena, one that has benefited greatly from the growing popularity of this style.

APIs are of course simply an interface between components of a distributed application. Like any interface, properly versioned, they can evolve. One thing I’ve noticed lately is that our customers are increasingly using Layer 7 technology to refine their APIs as they come to better understand their own needs.

For example, we have a customer in the publishing industry that is actually adapting existing SOAP-based APIs to RESTful design principles. They use our SecureSpan Gateways to present a true REST facade, and adapt this to existing SOAP messages on-the-fly. This transformation is fairly mechanical; what is more important is that the exercise also gave their developers the opportunity to refine their API suite to better meet their needs. Many of their new RESTful APIs leverage SecureSpan’s orchestration capabilities to consolidate multiple SOAP calls behind a single REST call. The resulting API 2.0 is a better match to their current business—and best of all, they were able to do all of this without writing a line of new code.

The lesson here is that while we like to think that APIs are perfectly static and never change, the truth is that we rarely get interfaces right the first time. Requirements change, business moves, and our understanding advances. What is important is that your APIs can respond with agility to changing needs, because change, we all know, is inevitable.


WS-I Publishes Basic Security Profile (BSP) 1.1

This morning the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) published the Basic Security Profile (BSP), version 1.1. This is a very significant milestone, because BSP is the definitive reference that we will all use to create secure and interoperable Web services for the foreseeable future.

I have a close personal connection to Basic Security Profile. I was one of the editors of both this specification and its predecessor, BSP 1.0. It took a lot of hard work to get this far, but the results of the our working group’s labours are important for the community. We all use Web services because of their potential for interoperability, but interoperability is only practical with the formalization that WS-I offers.

People have questioned the need for BSP in a world that already has OASIS WS-Security and the handful of WS-* standards that relate to it. The truth is, formal standards like WS-Security are so broad, complex, and new that it just isn’t realistic to expect vendor implementations to integrate perfectly. The WS-I approach differs from conventional standards efforts because the focus is strictly on promoting much needed interoperability. WS-I does not define new functionality, nor does it attempt to show people the “correct” way to use existing standards; it exists to profile existing standards by refining messages, amplifying important statements, and clarifying ambiguities so that systems from different vendors can communicate securely.

WS-I promotes interoperability by providing three important components: a profile of an existing standard (or set of standards), a suite of test tools to validate conformance, and finally sample applications. Microsoft’s Paul Cotton, the chair for the BSP working group, likens this to a three-legged stool—the effort can only stand when all three legs are present. This holistic approach taken by the WS-I distinguishes it from most standards efforts by including both specification and reference.

In the case of BSP 1.1, a very important component of the effort was the vendor interop. Six companies participated in this:

This is your short list of the vendors who are serious about Web services security. Obviously, we are the odd man out in terms of size and market reach, but we believe it’s important to drive the standards, not just implement them. And this is something we will continue to do. The days of big WS-* standards efforts are over. With the release of BSP, we have what we need to secure SOA. The next big challenge will be standardization of the cloud, and Layer 7 will be there.

How to Safely Publish Internal Services to the Outside World

So you’ve bought into the idea of service-orientation. Congratulations. You’ve begun to create services throughout your internal corporate network. Some of these run on .NET servers; others are Java services; still others are Ruby-on-Rails—in fact, one day you woke up and discovered you even have a mainframe service to manage. But the question you face now is this: how can all of these services be made available to consumers on the Internet? And more important, how can you do it securely?

Most organizations buffer their contact with the outside world using a DMZ. Externally facing systems, such as web servers, live in the DMZ. They mediate access to internal resources, implementing—well, hopefully implementing—a restrictive security model. The DMZ exists to create a security air gap between protocols. The idea is that any system deployed into the DMZ is hardened, resilient, and publishes a highly constrained API (in most cases, a web form). To access internal resources, you have to go through this DMZ-based system, and this system provides a restricted view of the back-end applications and data that it fronts.

The DMZ represents a challenge for publishing services. If services reside on internal systems, how can external clients get through the DMZ and access the service?

Clearly, you can’t simply start poking holes in firewall #2 to allow external systems to access your internal providers directly; this would defeat the entire purpose of the DMZ security model. But this is exactly what some vendors advocate. They propose that you implement local security agents that integrate into the container of the internal service provider. These agents implement policy-based security—essentially taking on the processing burden of authentication, authorization, audit, confidentiality, integrity and key management. While this may seem attractive, as it does decouple security into a purpose-built policy layer, it has some very significant drawbacks. The agent model essentially argues that once the internal policy layer is in place, the internal service provider is ready for external publication. But this implies poking holes in the DMZ, which is a bad security practice.  We have firewalls precicely because we don’t want to harden every internal system to DMZ-class resiliancy. An application-layer policy agent does nothing to defeat OS-targetted attacks, which means every service provider would need to be sufficiently locked down and maintained. This becomes unmanagable as the server volume grows, and completely erodes the integrity of firewall #2.

Furthermore, in practice, agents  just don’t scale well. Distribution of policy among a large number of distributed agents is a difficult problem to solve. Policies rapidly become unsynchronized, and internal security practices are often compromised just to get this ponderous and dependent system to work.

At Layer 7 we advocate a different approach to publishing services that is both scalable and secure. Our flagship product, the SecureSpan Gateway, is a security proxy for Web services, REST, and arbitrary XML and binary transactions. It is a hardened hardware or virtual appliance that can be safely deployed in the DMZ to govern all access to internal services. It acts as the border guard, ensuring that each transaction going in or out of the internal network conforms to corporate policy.

SecureSpan Gateways act as a policy air-gap that constrains access to back end services through a rich policy-based security model. This integrates consistently with the design philosophy of the DMZ. Appliances are hardened so they can withstand Internet-launched attacks, and optimized so they can scale to enormous traffic loads. We built full clustering into SecureSpan in the first version we released, close to eight years ago. This ensures that there is no single point of failure, and that systems can be added to accommodate increasing loads.

The separate policy layer—and the policy language that defines this—is the key to the security model and is best illustrated using a real example. Suppose I have a warehouse service in my internal network that I would like to make available to my distributors. The warehouse service has a number of simple operations, such as inventory queries and the ability to place an order. I’ll publish this to the outside world through a SecureSpan Gateway residing in the DMZ, exactly as shown in the diagram above.

SecureSpan provides a management console used to build the policies that govern access to each service. Construction of the initial policy is made simple using a wizard that bootstraps the process using the WSDL, which is a formal service description for my warehouse service. The wizards allows me to create a basic policy in three simple steps. First, I load the WSDL:

Next, I declare a basic security model. I’ll keep this simple, and just use SSL for confidentiality, integrity, and server authentication. HTTP basic authentication will carry the credentials, and I’ll only authorize access to myself:

If this policy sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the security model for most web sites. It turns out that this is a reasonable model for many XML-based Web services as well.

Finally, I’ll define a proxy routing to get to my internal service, and an access control model once there. In this example, I will just use a general account. Under this model, the service trusts the SecureSpan Gateway to authenticate and authorize users on it’s behalf:

You may have noticed that this assumes that the warehouse services doesn’t need to know the identity of the original requester-—that is, Scott. If the service did need this, there are a number of ways to communicate my identity claim downstream to the service, using techniques like SAML, IBM’s Trust Association Interceptor (TAI), proxied credentials, or various other tricks that I won’t cover here.

The wizard generates a simple policy for me that articulates my simple, web-oriented security model. Here’s what this policy looks like in the SecureSpan management console:

Policy is made up of individual assertions. These encapsulate all of the parameters that make up that operation. When a message for the warehouse service is identified, SecureSpan loads and executes the assertions in this policy, from top to bottom. Essentially, policy is an algorithm, with all of the classic elements of flow control. SecureSpan represents this graphically to make the policy simple to compose and understand. However, policy can also be rendered as an XML-based WS-Policy document. In fact, if you copy a block of graphical assertions into a text editor, they resolve as XML. Similarily, you can paste XML snippets into the policy composer and they appear as graphical assertion elements.

This policy is pretty simplistic, but it’s a good foundation to build on. I’ll add some elements that further restrict transactions and thus constrain access to the back end system the SecureSpan Gateway is protecting.

The rate limit assertion allows me to cap the number of transactions getting through to the back end. I can put an absolute quota on the throughput: say, 30,000 transaction/sec because I know that the warehouse service begins to fail once traffic exceeds this volume. But suppose I was having a problem with individual suppliers overusing particular services. I could limit use by an individual identity (as defined by an authenticated user or originating IP address) to 5,000 transasctions/sec—still a lot, but leaving headroom for other trading partners. The rate limit assertion gives me this flexibility. Here is its detailed view:

Note that if I get 5,001 transactions from a user in one second, I will buffer the last transaction until the rate drops in a subsequent time window (subject, of course, to resource availability on the gateway). This provides me with application-layer traffic shaping that is essential in industries like telco, who use this assertion extensively.

I would also like to evaluate each new transaction for threats. SecureSpan has assertions that cover a range of familar threats, such as SQL-injection (which has been around for a long time, but has become newly relevant in the SOA world), as well as a long list of new XML attacks that attempt to exploit parser infrastructure and autogenerated code. For the warehouse service, I’m concerned about code-injection attacks. Fortunately, there’s an assertion for that:

Here’s what these two assertions look like dropped into the policy:

This policy was simple to compose (especially since we had the wizard to help us). But it is also very effective. It’s a visible and understandable, which is an important and often overlooked aspect of security tooling. SOA security suffers from an almost byzantine complexity. It is much too easy to build a security model that obscures weakness behind its detail. One of the design goals we had at Layer 7 for SecureSpan was to make it easy to do the simple things that challenge us 80% of the time. However, we also wanted to provide the richness to solve the difficult problems that make up the other 20%. These are problems such as adaptation. They are the obscure impedance-mismatches between client and server security models, or fast run-time adaptation of message content to accommodate version mismatches.

In this example, it took only seven simple assertions to build a basic security policy for publishing services to the outside world. Fortunately, there are over 100 other assertions—covering everything from message-based security to transports like FTP to orchestration—that are there when you need to solve the tougher problems.

Integrating SecureSpan Gateways and Sun’s OpenSSO

François Lascelles, who is Technical Director for Europe here at Layer 7, has just published an excellent article on Sun’s Developer Network site titled Delegating XML Gateway Runtime Authorization to OpenSSO. It goes into detail about how entitlements in Sun’s OpenSSO can be enforced for Web services, XML, and REST transactions using a SecureSpan Gateway and OpenSSO server.

This combination of Policy Decision Point (PDP)–in this case, OpenSSO–and Policy Enforcement Point (PEP)– the Layer 7 SecureSpan Gateway–is a common deployment pattern for us. Most organizations have already made PEP PDPan investment in Identity and Access Management (IAM) infrastructure; however, this is not sufficient on its own for SOA access control. That’s where Layer 7 can help. Deployed in combination with an IAM system like OpenSSO, SecureSpan does the heavy lifting of XML processing and enforcement, but delegates the access control decision process (and often identity token validation) to the existing, familiar IAM infrastructure. It’s a powerful combination, and one that extends existing investment in IAM into the SOA world.

Over the past seven years, we’ve built connectors into virtually all of the IAM systems out there. When we built SecureSpan, we were careful to build an effective framework for authentication and authorization so that it’s easy to build connectors into different systems. This is important, because unfortunately the IAM marketplace evolved rapidly and without a lot of standardization.

Have a look at François’ article. He’s been with the company since it’s beginning, and has as broad a perspective on this area as you will find.

SOA Security Can Be Simple

I wrote earlier in the week about Randy Hefner’s article that characterized the present state of SOA security as “good enough and getting better”. If you design your security architecture well, you can iterate on it and implement more sophisticated security models as you need them. This is something I agree with completely–in fact, this is the guiding principle behind how we build the SecureSpan Gateway product line here at Layer 7. But I’m a vendor; of course I’m going to say that. Instead, let me prove it using some real examples.

Suppose we have a simple warehouse application we want to make available to our field staff. The application resides deep inside our corporate network, and our field staff need to use the public Internet to access it. The good news is that this application publishes a service composed of four simple operations:

Warehouse Service

  • listProduct()
  • getProductDetails()
  • placeOrder()
  • currentOrders()

This will make it easy to build clients that can access it. The bad news is that it has no security protecting it in any way, as it’s been assumed to be in a secure environment.

We’ll use a SecureSpan Gateway in front of the application to be the secure “front door” to these services. The Gateway will provide policy-based security, that can be easily administered by a dedicated security professional–not the developers who wrote the original warehouse app. This is what Randy and Forrester recommend as a best practice. Here’s how it looks:

A simple, edge-of-network deployment of a SecureSpan Gateway as a border guard for internal services.

A simple, edge-of-network deployment of a SecureSpan Gateway as a border guard for internal services.

Scenario #1: Simple SSL

Randy suggested that given the right architecture, you can begin with a simple security model and evolve it. That’s what I’ll do here.  I’ll begin with a very simple, uniform security policy governing access to the service:

Policy #1

  1. Incoming connection must use SSL
  2. Send the request content to the internal warehouse service.

I’ll admit that this isn’t much of a security model–it has no authentication, authorization, or audit. But it does illustrate how you can layer on some simple policy to the internal service: here, by only accepting connections that are using SSL. Thus, we’ve put a constraint on the system that between the external client and the SecureSpan Gateway we must have confidentiality and integrity.

Policies are created in the SecureSpan Manager, which is the administration console for single gateways or clusters (a logical grouping of gateways that shares policies and critical state info and is administered as a whole). The SecureSpan Manager has a useful wizard that allows you to compose basic security policies using only the WSDL description of a service as input. I won’t demonstrate it here, but instead skip to the wizard output, which is an executable policy:

basic SSL reverse proxy

This policy will be executed automatically whenever the Gateway receives a message destined for the warehouse service. It’s composed of just two assertions that implement the policy requirements we listed above. In SecureSpan, assertions are strung together into algorithms that describe how the gateway should process a stream of XML content. SecureSpan ships about 100 standard assertions. These can be used to do everything from authentication, transformation, SLAs, routing to different transports, audit, logical flow control, orchestration, etc. There’s also a pluggable model for building your own custom assertions, which you can use to solve those unusual problems that can’t be overcome with basic components. It’s a lot like the shell scripting philosophy in Unix: give people a kit of basic sharp tools and there’s no limit to what they can build.

Scenario #2: Add Client-side Certificate Authentication and Authorization

Suppose we want to add client authentication to the policy. There are dozens of different authentication modes in the Web services standards, and a number of informal ones we see regularily in the field. We support virtually all of these. In this example, let’s use client-side certificates, and let’s add an authorization component to only permit people in the sales group to access  the warehouse service:

Policy #2:

  1. Incoming connection must use SSL
  2. Client must be challenged for a certificate, and this certificate must be valid, and be issued by an authority we trust
  3. Client must be in the sales group, as defined in the gateway internal identity provider
  4. Send the request content to the internal warehouse service (as before).

Think about what you would have to accomplish to implement this on the application server you host your services on. Now think about getting this consistent across a farm of servers. Finally, consider how you would maintain this consistently across different systems, like Microsoft .NET and WebSphere. It’s a big challenge. In contrast, here’s what it looks like in SecureSpan:

ssl authN

Notice the first assertion now declares that it will challenge the client to authenticate itself using the client-side certificate authentication protocol built into SSL. This is configured by adjusting the assertion details, which are accessible by double-clicking the assertion:

ssl detail

I’ve added a new assertion that adds authorization (or entitlements) by imposing group membership requirements. I simply dragged it in from our palette and dropped it into the policy. Here, I’m leveraging group definitions that were defined using our internal identity provider. This is a localized directory shared across SecureSpan Gateway clusters. Administrators create identities here, define groupings, and issue certificates using the Gateway’s integrated Certificate Authority (CA) capability. These features are convenient because they allows you to work with identity-centric policies without being forced to call out to an external LDAP, Identity and Access Management (IAM) system, or PKI authority. (Of course, if you want to go external, we have connectors into, well, pretty much all of them.) The internal identity provider is very useful for testing or development–and demonstrations like this where we are trying to keep things simple.

Scenario #3: OASIS Web Services Security WS-S Message-based Security

Now let’s make a really radical change to our security model. We’ll move from transport-level, SSL security to a more sophisticated message-based security model. This supports different transports–such as going over a JMS Message-Oriented Middleware (MOM) provider like MQSeries, or transfer of XML content as a file over FTP. It can handle asynchronous, and non point-to-point messaging, which are difficult or impossible to achieve using connection-based SSL.  Here’s the new policy:

Policy #3:

  1. Authenticate identity using the OASIS WS-Security Kerberos Token Profile
  2. Ensure that the message contains valid, digitally signed time stamps. These could be used to add uniqueness in the message as a means to defeat replay attacks (there are various other strategies to achieve this as well).
  3. If the operation requested is placeOrder(), decrypt the order contents elements in the message using the AES-192 cipher, a symmetric key encryption mechanism. Do this in compliance with the OASIS WS-Security standard.
  4. Regardless of the operation, ensure that there is a valid signature spanning the body of the message to ensure that nothing was altered in transit. This also establishes a binding between the content and the identity we validated in step #1.
  5. Client must be in the sales group, as defined in the internal identity provider (as before).
  6. Send the request content to the internal warehouse service (as before).

Our security model is becoming fairly complex, and it’s important to note that it is by no means complete. We haven’t even begun to address how the response from the service should be handled (right now it’s just relayed unaltered from the service); however to keep things simple in the example we’ll confine ourselves to this, knowing that it is incomplete.

Here’s what this policy looks like in the SecureSpan Manager. Note that it’s simple to read and understand, which is important when designing security implementations. Complexity increases the chances of errors going undetected:

wss 1

To write this I simply deleted the SSL assertion and dragged in four new ones. To configure the encryption on a particular element, I opened the detail pane of the encrypt request element assertion:


This pane reflects on the schema bound to the original WSDL that describe the warehouse service. It allows me to just point at the elements I expect to find encrypted (or signed). The gateway takes care of the heavy lifting of XML decryption at run time using our acceleration technology. This panel provides a standard message stereotype to work with, or I can load a sample message to describe an even more realistic scenario.

The time spent converting from SSL-based security model to the much more sophisticated WS-Security policy was all of about 30 seconds. So what we’ve done here is shown how you can start simple, and grow your security model over time with very little effort or risk.

Simple SOA Security

When I was young my Dad was tough on tools. I quite clearly remember him stating “if your tools don’t work for you, get different tools”. This was usually followed by the offending tool being tossed into the garbage because it didn’t serve its intended purpose. A better one–one that solved the problem it was designed for–inevitably showed up soon after. Somehow, this has always stuck with me.

SOA tools need to work just as hard, and if they aren’t useful, they need to face a similar fate. SecureSpan Gateways need to offer flexibility, because the truth is, everyone has different integration challenges in the SOA world. But SecureSpan also needs to be simple enough to resist misconfiguration by virtue of the complexity of SOA security standards (more on this topic in a future post). These are actually two opposing forces, and it’s not trivial to find a useful balance between the two. SecureSpan has achieved that balance. When we do find case where it fails, our judgment is as unequivocal as my Dad’s around the chisels and wrenches in my his toolbox: replace it with something that works for you.

Randy Hefner on the State of SOA Security

Randy Hefner wrote an encouraging piece recently in ComputerWorld titled SOA Security: Good Enough and Getting Better. I say encouraging because from his perspective—which is broad and well-informed by virtue of his role as a Forrester analyst—most organizations now understand the importance of SOA security, and they are implementing the basics today. The more advanced pieces, particularly around complex identity-centric use cases such as single sign-on and federation, remain elusive; but at least there is a solid baseline to work from. Randy maintains:

“Thus it is important, even if you start with a simple SOA security solution, to anticipate the need for and leave paths open to build additional, deeper security functionality as business requirements demand and SOA security maturity allows.”

This is something I definitely agree with. Security can begin with the basics, as long as you put the time and energy into your basic policy and security architecture upfront. If you design it for growth, you can easily add in support for scenarios like non-repudiation later on. Security should always be an iterative process. It’s something you never finish, and you need to keep this in mind as you are designing your security architecture. You don’t want your tools and infrastructure to let you down at some point in the future.

But Randy’s real gem is here:

“Forrester strongly recommends that you design a solution that does not require application developers to do security-related coding. Even with strong guidelines and code reviews, embedding security into application code is risky both in terms of achieving consistent security and of allowing future flexibility and enhancement of application security.”

Bravo Randy—and Forrester by extension. This is the critical insight that so many people miss. Here at Layer 7, we’ve been evangelizing for years that developers need to be taken out of the equation when it comes to securing the communications that make up a secure SOA application. SOA security is a complex discipline, and it’s risky to assume that each of your development teams will implement it consistently and correctly. You need to dedicate an expert to the problem and make this person (or persons) responsible for implementing a security model across all of your SOA apps.

The fundamental associated risk with standards like WS-Security (WS-S) is their complexity. This is a very broad specification, one that relies on a host of other specifications as its core. By design, it is not prescriptive about how you should use it; rather, it is a framework for securing SOAP transactions to your business needs.

I was (am still am) an editor of the WS-I Basic Security Profile (BSP), along with colleagues from IBM, from Nortel, and from Microsoft (a number of other companies also contributed to the specification as participants in the working group). I’ve worked alongside the best SOA security minds on the planet, and I learned first hand how easy it is to inadvertently create WS-S (or, for that matter, BSP)-compliant security models that are riddled with holes. OASIS and WS-I, through the standards and profiles they produce, do not have a mandate to offer formulas for securing SOA apps. They are in the business of providing frameworks for experts to implement secure solutions, or to promote interoperability.

This is why it’s so important that security for SOA be placed in the hands of dedicated experts, and that the tools to support an overall governance strategy—such as Layer 7 SecureSpan Gateway line—allow security policies to be enacted simply and comprehensively. I’ve always said that the soul of good security is consistency. Your tools need to support this.

In a forthcoming blog entry, I’ll demonstrate how simple it is to implement SOA security using Layer 7’s SecureSpan Gateways, and thus deliver on Randy’s assertion that we must take application developers out of the SOA security process.

SecureSpan Gateway Cluster deployed in a common, edge-of-the-network scenario. This is just one example of many different deployment possibilities. Here, the gateway cluster provides consistent security policy enforcement for all services published by the organization.

SecureSpan Gateway Cluster deployed in a common, edge-of-the-network scenario. This is just one example of many different deployment possibilities. Here, the gateway cluster provides consistent security policy enforcement for all services published by the organization.

eBizQ Forum Question: Are Web Services Protocols Such as SOAP and REST and AJAX Effective for Building SOA Off of Mainframe, Large Systems or Legacy Environments?

Joe McKendrick poses this interesting question on the eBizQ forum. The question of when to use MOM, SOAP, REST is one that I’m really interested in.