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Goodbye SOA, we hardly knew you.

Goodbye SOA, we hardly knew you.

January 06, 2009 0 Comments

Anne Thomas Manes of Burton Group posted how SOA is Dead; Long Live Services.  This one is too juicy not to comment on!

Firstly, I totally agree with Anne.  I think "SOA" is definitely dead in 2009.  And I also agree that the need for services will grow.  But, we still wrap too many things into the same terms.

At a simple level, I'll break it into four points, I'd like to talk about where I think things are going:

Service-oriented applications.  BPM, cloud computing, SaaS, PaaS, composites, mashups. All of these are doing well and will continue to do well even in the 2009 economy.  Why?  1) They can be leveraged as needed; 2) They can be done fast; and 3) Using them typically provides measurable benefit from day one (if it doesn't, then you should do something else shouldn't you!).  It's precisely the laser focus solution aspect of these that is their greatest strength.  Get in and get out while solving a problem that someone really cares about.

Service-oriented architecture (SOA).  This is where you look from a higher level above all your service-oriented applications to create a cohesive architecture that all of these follow.  Dead in 2009.  Why?  Because approaching this from an architectural perspective will always fail.  Is it a noble goal?  Sure.  But without other changes in your organization (see below), it just can't be successful.  Said another way, before you can start on a successful SOA infrastructure initiative you must finish the items below.

Service Delivery.  By service I don't mean what you're probably thinking (a thing you create).  I mean service in the most pure sense: as in "what value do you deliver to others" (with the follow up of "how do I continue to improve the value I deliver to others").  This requires a transformation for most IT organizations... and most haven't even started yet. To be fair, there are organizations that have figured this out (take S&P for example: their whole business is service delivery, so of course they understand it) - but the vast majority don't fit into this category - and if you do not pass go, you can't collect your $200: So this is the next step for most IT organizations that want to transform.  Think: "How do I create my first true service?" Here's a hint: you can't do it by creating a project, task force or cross-functional team (more on this in a subsequent post since this is a richer topic than I can cover here).

Service-oriented IT.  Once you've mastered service delivery on a small scale, then you can tackle it on a larger scale: turning IT from being project and application oriented to being service oriented.  Warning: this is a major transformation that can't be done without the CIO leading the charge.  Sorry, but no enterprise architect can make this happen.  And it can't happen until you've figured out service delivery.  This is not a 2009 project for most organizations.  It is a 2010+ transformation.

Most organizations that went down the SOA route tried to do SOA without first figuring out what it means to deliver a service, and without realizing they needed to get this right (and begin the service-oriented IT transformation) before they could never be successful at service-oriented architecture.

Service-oriented architecture is a technical and architectural transformation.  But it can't exist without first focusing on the organizational and cultural transformation of service delivery and service-oriented IT.

This is why SOA is dead in 2009 and why services will live on. But who knows... maybe once an organization figures out service-oriented IT, SOA will be resurrected - but don't wait up.

dan foody

View all posts from dan foody on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.

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