SOA Source Book delivers step-by-step implementation guidelines

The Open Group, a vendor- and technology-neutral consortium focused on open standards and global interoperability within and between enterprises, has released the first edition of "The SOA Source Book."

The Open Group, a vendor-and technology-neutral consortium focused on open standards and global interoperability

within and between enterprises, has released the first edition of "The SOA Source Book." Written for enterprise and IT architects, the source book provides a best practices approach to implementing a service-oriented architecture (SOA) based on The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF).

Dr. Chris Harding, forum director of the SOA Work Group and primary author of the book, says the source book approaches SOA from a practical standpoint with a focus on architecture and governance. It shows enterprise architects how they can use the service principle to deliver unified business and technical architectures for their organizations, he says.

The source book leverages work accomplished by The Open Group's SOA Work Group since 2005, which wasn't getting published as formal standards or guidelines, Harding says.

Although SOA has been declared dead, the idea of basing the enterprise architecture (EA) on the service principle is very much alive, says Harding. "Although there has been much hype surrounding the concept of SOA within the IT industry, many of the problems and disillusionments surrounding SOA have been a direct result of service-orientation not being addressed from an architectural perspective," Harding says.

Harding says the book addresses two key challenges cited by many SOA architects -- transitioning from pilot projects to enterprise SOA and governance.

"These challenges generally stem from not having the overall enterprise architecture in view when doing the pilot project. The book suggests that you do a quick, "rough and ready", enterprise architecture before starting the pilot project, and then go back and do the EA thoroughly in light of what the pilot tells you," Harding explains.

Srikanth Inaganti, lead consultant at Wipro Consulting Services in India, agrees. Key challenges include the identification of the right pilot project and pilot scope finalization so that service requests cut across the complete SOA infrastructure being proposed, he says.

Other challenges include choosing the right way to implement SOA based on the enterprise culture -- organic or strategic; demonstrating a quantifiable benefit over a period of time from deployed services, and SOA funding and costing models, says Inaganti.

In the area of governance, Harding says a lack of attention is generally quoted as being one of the main reasons why SOA projects fail. "It is important to have good governance for SOA, but too many enterprises aren't able to achieve it," he says.

Inaganti says governance "is all about executive, management and technical controls." SOA brings in standard policy definitions, enforcing policies in a distributed environment, he says.

Although the SOA source book or TOGAF may not be able to give solutions to any specific problems such as moving pilot projects to SOA and SOA governance because it depends completely on the problem in question and the context surrounding it, it can help address the problems in a structured way, Inaganti says.

Harding hopes the source book will make it easier for organizations to use SOA on an enterprise-wide basis versus a single project, and enable organizations to think more clearly about why they would use SOA in the enterprise, where they most need to use SOA features in the enterprise, and what particular features of SOA they need to use.

The SOA Source Book is available in hard copy from The Open Group and Van Haren Publishing and is also available on the Web at http://www.opengroup.org/projects/soa-book/.

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