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SOA Next- Just a New Skin for the Same Problems

SOA Next- Just a New Skin for the Same Problems

March 18, 2009 0 Comments

After the recent (and dramatic) proclamation that SOA is dead, is it a question of time until we see the rising of the proverbial Phoenix? Seems to be starting... at least going by the interview with Miko Matsumura in Information Week. Referring to the Gartner hype Cycle, he says, "I think we're on the 'Slope of Enlightenment' before we reach the 'Plateau of Productivity'. Anne Thomas Manes' pronouncement about the death of SOA was made in the depths of the 'Trough of Disillusionment'." I particularly liked the reference to "coarse grained cost-cutting", where he says when a whole division is rendered obsolete, what happens to the systems that the division was responsible for; that may still remain operational? SOA infrastructure is supposed to solve this!

Miko's solution is that if the services are well defined - with dependencies clearly modeled and governance practices in place - then it is easy for the organization to deal with such extreme situations as a whole division not existing anymore! This seems like Utopia. Really!

To me, the scenario is more the promise of SOA. The issue though (leading to the proclamation of SOAs death) is the reality, which is far from the promise. None of the anticipated flexibility and value is realized beyond the POCs and pilots! Not much mainstream gains yet. But, like I mentioned in an earlier post, the issue is more about the adoption approaches rather than any inherent deficiencies in the SOA design approaches or the platforms/technologies selected.

So even if we were to invent a "new SOA" or "SOA Next" or "SOA Whatever", the problem will remain because it never was about the technology, per se. It is more about the practical difficulties in getting an organization (its management, architects and developers) to understand and appreciate the SOA principles even half as much as they yap about the next minor revision to a WS* standard as the necessary consideration in their present SOA projects.

At the end of a successful SOA initiative, it's not just about the individual IT groups/teams understanding the need for defining a services layer, it's also about their well defined UI and DB layer which have to be ready for enabling coarse-grained services based on sufficient cross-functional business analysis of the organization. What's more these should be XML-aware layers, beyond just the fringes ("wrappers"). Now, all of these need to be in a single solution, regardless of who needs it now, and what SOA platform is in place. In this bottom-up approach to SOA adoption, the principles are adopted and ingrained first, and then comes the platforms, services, orchestration and governance.

Simply put, successful "service orientation" is the single most significant key to successful SOA in any organization!

Ramesh Loganathan

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

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