The Problem with SOA is Architecture

The Problem with SOA is Architecture

Posted on September 12, 2008 0 Comments

As I read David Linthicum's post on SOA vendors focus too much on integration... and not enough on architecture, this really clarified one of the messes we've gotten into with SOA.  The problem is "architecture."  Dave's definition of architecture (from the post) is:

"the orderly creation, placement, configuration, and management of IT assets."

The problem is that it's only one definition of architecture.  Dave is referring to enterprise architecture:

Wikipedia: "a process for describing an enterprise and its information systems and planning changes to improve the integrity and flexibility of the enterprise"

The other type of common architecture in the software world is application architecture (or you might call it software architecture):

Wikipedia: "the structure or structures of the system, which comprise software components, the externally visible properties of those components, and the relationships between them."

I think that one of the things that gets people so confused with SOA is that the term never really clarifies what type of architecture it's referring to.

So, maybe we really need two terms:

  • Service Oriented Enterprise Architecture (SOEA)
  • Service Oriented Application Architecture (SOAA)

Once you recognize this, a number of things start to fall in place.  Both of these have value... but they are different.

Arguably, most enterprise architects think of SOEA and so the term SOA (at least among the purists) has drifted towards meaning SOEA.  Unfortunately, this has alienated a lot of people, because a lot of people experience the value of SOAA every day (web 2.0, SaaS, and cloud computing are great examples of SOAA but have little to do with SOEA) but don't think of it as SOA.

Now, I'm not recommending we create two new term (SOEA and SOAA).  The world is already confusing enough.  Maybe what we need to do, as an industry, is consolidate on using "SOA" to represent service oriented enterprise architecture, and just refer to everything else (SOAA) as "service oriented."

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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