SOA 101 – it's about the architecture, stupid

SOA may not be easy to achieve, but the fundamental principle of it isn't hard to grasp – start with the architecture.

Simplicity has its merits. For instance, K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid, not the rock band) principles are handy

when it comes to service-oriented architecture.

Last week we took a mid-year look at the state of SOA and much of the discouragement stemmed from fruitless technology squabbles and users being led down blind alleys.

Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC, noted, "Many end-users are being misled with regards to proper SOA adoption - focusing them more on implementing new infrastructure and not as much on building well-architected services." Architecture may be the last word in SOA, but it is the primary concern. Analysts wear themselves out making this point. They hammer on the notion that architecture should take precedence over technology, that the latter ought to conform to the former.

Burton Group recently bemoaned tech-centric SOA worst practices. Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director at Burton, said, "SOA is an enterprise architecture style, not an application architecture style." Once again, note the simplicity at the heart of the statement – Manes stresses architecture in regard to SOA.

Heck, even if we were talking about the rock band KISS. They've kept it pretty simple. Outlandish costumes + pyrotechnics + power chords = legions of rabid fans. SOA doesn't need to be any trickier. Architecture is king. As Schmelzer said, what you build should be well-architected. This applies to data architecture as well. You need data governance so that your data conforms to your service orientation efforts.

The architecture focus is why you find such a broad range of users pursuing SOA. This week we lead off with a story about Pacific Blue Cross. Recently we've had user stories on prison management company Corrections Corporation of America, the Finnish military and the CERN physics laboratory. It doesn't really matter what you business is, well-architected services can deliver value.


This was first published in July 2007

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