Gartner AADI 2011: Manes says software architecture must change

Application infrastructure must change to support varied clients and an abundance of programmable Web interfaces, said SOA notable Anne Manes.

Application infrastructures and architectures must change to support a new variety of client interfaces and an abundance of open Web-based programmable interfaces, SOA expert Anne Manes told an audience at Gartner's AADI Summit 2011 in Las Vegas, Nev. SOA is useful in setting the stage for such change, she noted.

Contemporary IT solutions require "postmodern" principles, said Manes, vice president and distinguished analyst, Gartner. Being ''postmodern,'' she suggests, means building flexible systems that accommodate future changes that cannot be anticipated.

"Adaptability has to be a basic part of your architecture," Manes said.

Manes contrasts the postmodern method to traditional architectures that are built with a high emphasis on stability as systems of record. She said SOA has already set the groundwork for new approaches, by producing application systems that are modular and interoperable.

Famed in SOA circles for her pointed "SOA-is-dead" critique of 2009, Manes sees some progress with use of service-oriented architecture today. That is because fewer people look at SOA as something that is obtained by purchasing a product, she said.

"SOA is really about the design model - how you design systems. In the last few years we've seen people focus on architecture. The principles behind service orientation are starting to sink in. More people are doing it as part of their development process, and that is a good thing," she said.

Controller patterns for application architecture

Recent years, with growing use of Web applications and, more recently, mobile applications, have challenged well-tested application strategies. "Now, you have to design applications that support any type of client," said Manes. "You should not build four applications for one pattern."

You only want one service that, for example, creates a new customer record, she emphasized. But now the service has to be used to support all kinds of clients and interaction patterns.

Architecture has to support flow and contextualization, as well as management and personalization, Manes said. So, she describes a "controller" layer - something like a model view controller, but much more – as a conceptual tool for better approaching architectures going forward.

In Manes' analysis, architecture is under stress from several directions.  On the front end, the surfeit of mobile device types challenges the established architecture. Meanwhile, on the back end, we have a far different landscape than, say, in the days of client-server, when the ''data'' back end usually stood for "SQL DB." Today's data sources are far more varied.

"Today, it is a more complex environment, with multiple moving parts.  And not everything is sitting in an application server. Services will be used in multiple applications," she said.

"You have to adopt new patterns and approaches," she said. "You have to build adaptability into your environment to support what you need going forward."

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