SOA's Many Missing Pieces

Loraine Lawson

Two items caught my eye recently because they both point to a big problem for SOA success.

The first is this article from Computerworld New Zealand, which shares Accenture CTO Donald Rippert's remarks at the opening of the Accenture Innovation Centre for BEA. Rippert noted that most SOA implementations aren't achieving their potential because they're stuck.

He identified four phases of SOA:

  1. Using XML as an interface
  2. Making legacy systems available as Web services
  3. Using an ESB (enterprise service bus) to connect Web services and use composite processes.
  4. Using BPEL (Business Process Execution Language), which he notes will make it possible to change a business application by changing the process model rather than the code.

Most SOA implementations are stuck on number two, migrating legacy systems, he said. For some reason, they're not moving on to implementing a process model, he said.


He also related that CIOs say there's a disconnect between business and IT that's keeping either side from fully leveraging SOA's potential for reuse -- which should surprise nobody.


Meanwhile, halfway across the world at the Gartner Application Development and Integration Conference in Las Vegas, conference goers were apparently learning a different lesson, though the moral, I think, is the same.


Jeff Schneider, CEO of SOA consultant firm MomentumSi, attended the conference, but wrote on his blog that despite all the SOA discussion, there was "a void around 'Information Modeling for SOA.'" In short, there's no one looking at what happens with the data model, a problem previously mentioned about SOA.


Process models, information modeling -- besides the word model, what do these two have in common? It's the enterprise-view of SOA: the big picture of how it all fits together with the entire IT system and business once you've figured out the technicalities of SOA.


Both are a big missing piece of the enterprise SOA puzzle -- but I'm guessing they're not the only ones. For instance, there's also security, which remains disturbingly absent from most SOA discussions. (By the way, Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director, Burton Group, is conducting a free Webcast on SOA security Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 9 a.m., EST.)


None of these issues seem like a deal-breaker for SOA. Rather, they are reminders that you must look up every now and then and remember where you wanted to go when you first started building this new road.

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