A JISC interview with Patrick Masson, (via EdTechPost) formerly of State University of New York, who implemented a service oriented architecture, based around a mixture of LAMS, uPortal, Sakai and their own tools. He is honest about some of the difficulties, but still remains convinced about the need for a SOA solution for VLEs.
A few things from my perspective – firstly SUNY is a case study I use in my book, but this section would now obviously benefit from this kind of material. So once again one is faced with the time lag between writing something and it being published – the book is out in March and there are already bits of it that feel dated (ahem, it’s still worth buying though!).
Secondly, he reflects my own feeling on Sakai, saying "I wonder why Sakai isn’t devoting its time and energy to producing a framework which at the end of the day many people could use, what do we gain from getting another Moodle?". I always felt that this was what Sakai really offered, a method of integrating different services, but they seem to have been distracted by the need to deliver a product. In doing so I think they have lost some of the clarity of their approach.
Lastly, it reinforces for me that the OU was right to adopt Moodle as a kind of middle ground between the full SOA and a monolithic system. As project director I had recommended the SOA, but Moodle provided a firm enough technological base to work from, while still allowing us freedom to develop. Whether Moodle remains the right choice in the face of web 2.0 technologies will be the next question.