SOA implementation: It's the increments, stupid

Jack Vaughan

As SOA grew up it developed a penchant for bigness and lateness - two of the key attributes it was supposed to fix in development organizations hard pressed to succeed. Nowadays, with budgets under new scrutiny and business outcomes foremost, we find SOA advisors reminding application developers and integrators to right-size their projects to ensure early deliverables.

We all need the occasional reminder to take one step at a time, and to focus on deliverables. To emphasize its importance, we paraphrase a former U.S. president's words on the economy, saying "It's the increments, stupid." We've noticed the notion showing up more and more often. recently ran

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some SOA tips from pros at the Rolta excellence center. They advise: "Use an iterative, agile approach to SOA project management. For each SOA project within each SOA domain, plan on two-to four-week sprints, at the end of which your SOA project team delivers a "working product" – something new that can actually be used to generate and/or improve business results."

There is more. Check out architecture maven Mike Rosen's words on SOA best practices. Like others, Rosen sees value in adapting to SOA some of the philosophy inherent in agile methods. It does not literally come from the agile development movement, but," said Rosen, "it follows the same principles, which is to understand your requirements, look for a small incremental approach at addressing those requirements, get continuous feedback from your sponsors and look for some way to prove the value."

Meanwhile, Randy Hefner, analyst, Forrester, wrote on about new, emerging formulations for SOA success. Again, a key was achieve an over-arching approach via stepwise movements. "Build incrementally toward the vision," writes Forrester's Hefner. "Your strategy should assume that, starting now, your business technology solutions will build incrementally toward a coherent business design. Think of each new project as though it is building individual puzzle pieces and adding them to an emerging picture of your digital business."

Lao Tzu is credited as saying that ''the journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.'' It is obvious, perhaps, but worth re-iterating. What do you think?

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