Are we being oversold on the integration value of SOA?
David Linthicum certainly thinks so. In his Real World SOA blog this week, he takes vendors to task for using SOA as a selling tool. In particular, Linthicum says too many vendors are just repackaging their enterprise application integration (EAI) solutions as "SOA solutions."
Linthicum is a renowned SOA expert -- but you may not know that, before SOA, he specialized in integration. He even wrote a book on it. So, when he says SOA and integration are too tightly coupled -- excuse the pun -- we should probably heed his warning.
Of course, he's also not the first person to point this out. In March, I shared how Ronald Schmelzer of ZapThink made a similar, albeit longer, argument contending that companies were confusing true SOA implementations with what amounted to EAI 2.0 projects.
Linthicum's biggest complaint seems to be that vendors are selling SOA short by focusing too much on integration and other tactical issues:
"... when selling into the SOA marketing, they are driving integration and not architecture, focusing more on the tactical, and not the strategic. Not as much value to the business there."
I talk a lot about SOA's potential for integration. To be clear, that's because this blog is about integration -- not SOA - so basically I try to restrict my discussion of SOA to how it relates to integration. But don't confuse this with thinking SOA is all about integration. As Linthicum points out, integration is a small part of the SOA picture.
Still, I don't see the problem with focusing on tactical solutions such as integration -- as long as you don't stop there. And I certainly agree it's wrong to call something "SOA" when it's really EAI, re-branded.
I guess the moral of the story is simple: If you're looking for an integration solution, focus on integration. If you happen to be moving to SOA, then look into how it affects integration, but don't make that your only reason for SOA. Know what you're buying ... and don't pay a premium for an EAI solution, relabeled as SOA.