Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tell me the Truth about SOA

In my time in the IT industry - longer than I care to admit - I have generally worked at the leading edge of new software technology - including relational databases, fourth-generation languages, CASE tools, business intelligence, open distributed processing (ODP) and component-based development.

There were difficulties with all of these technologies - both practical (people simply didn't know how to use them effectively, or were reluctant to make the necessary organizational changes) and rhetorical (vendors making wildly optimistic claims, provoking equally wild counter claims).

I sometimes wonder whether there really is more nonsense spoken about SOA than all of these previous technologies put together, or whether it is simply that the nonsense gets greater exposure nowadays (thank-you Internet, thank-you Google, thank-you Blogger).

Even on Wikipedia - often a surprisingly good source of simple information - the articles on SOA and related topics are complicated and confusing. See Wikipedia Category: Service-oriented (business computing). There are some industry models and standards emerging, but most of these are focused on the web services technology stack.

At CBDI, we have always regarded the process as more important than the technology. It isn't what you have that matters most, but what you do with what you have. I had another opportunity to argue this point recently in the pages of IEEE Software, in a debate with Donald Ferguson of Microsoft (formerly Chief Architect of IBM Websphere).

So what is the right process for SOA? We've been working on this for a good while now, and we've decided to make some of this material available through this blog, as a basis for broader collaboration across the industry. What we're hoping to do is open up a wide-ranging discussion about process - what are the problems that an SOA process needs to address, where does an SOA process need to direct the attention of SOA practitioners, and what is the body of knowledge and experience that an SOA process can draw upon?

I intend to return to these broad questions in future posts, and I expect other bloggers will have something to say as well.


Vasu said...

I agree with the fact that SOA is hyped much more than what it actually deserves - the basic tenet that is put forward by industry and vendors clearly indicates that SOA process is no different from "Good Business Modeling and Decomposition" except that there is more emphasis on streamlining, standards and products (that adhere to these standards).

Vasu, Wipro

Richard Veryard said...

Thanks for your comment. I have posted an answer here: Good Business Modelling and Decomposition.