Seven Steps for Launching SOA -- From the Real World

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Apparently, I frustrated SOA Enterprise Architect Jean-Jacques Dubray with a recent post, "Integration, SOA, Whatever. It's Always About the Business." And boy, am I glad I did.

Dubray's blog notes that he works for a large financial institution and that he "started working on SOA in 1998 at NEC Systems Laboratories. Since then, he has architected three composite application frameworks at eXcelon, Eigner and Attachmate." He's got a long SOA pedigree, which you can read on his bio.

Dubray was annoyed enough to post a response, which outlines his experience with creating successful SOA implementations, as well as a seven-step guide to getting an SOA initiative on its feet. I particularly like the first three steps and his reasons for them:

  1. Create a SOA Center of Excellence (COE). He specifies that this is so you can ensure SOA skills reach a critical mass in your organization.
  2. Think Globally. This is a helpful reminder that while you may start small, the long-term goal is to build an enterprise architecture.
  3. Act Locally. Here, he offers a gem of advice: Use your center of excellence to help guide regular projects in creating services. He sees this as a way of getting your delivery team excited about SOA.

I'll let you read the full seven steps on his post. You should note that Dubray has used this approach to build a successful SOA platform capable of processing millions of transactions daily. He wrote:

"Recently, one of our most talented architects put in production a 'connected system' that was only composed of services interacting with each other -- including third-party services. Not a glitch. Over the last three months the usage has ramped up nicely and still not a glitch. Would you consider these two data points a failure? I certainly would not."

Obviously, his approach to SOA is helping that company build SOA incrementally.


Before that, however, he took me to task for a number of things, which I admit to partially and partially plead "Not Guilty due to misunderstanding." For instance, I do tend to think -- after reading a lot of analysts and other experts -- that there are times when you have to sell SOA to the business side. He disagreed, writing:

"My experience is that the key people that you have to focus all your energy on are the developers, architects, business analysts, QAs and operations. It is IT and IT's only responsibility to decide whether they want to do SOA and for what reasons. IMHO, we wasted years trying to convince the business to throw money at SOA and to a certain degree disappointed them when we missed the most critical success factor: get delivery and operations organizations knowledgeable and on board."

OK, good argument.


But, there is one remark he made that I cannot in good conscience ignore. He writes:

"Now I rarely disagree with people like Loraine Lawson or Eric Roch for instance. Like many, their posts are deeply rooted in experience and they don't care about launching the fad du jour."

Obviously, I'm not speaking for Eric Roch, who is a CTO and whose opinions are well-rooted in experience.


But let me just clarify right now: What I write is not deeply rooted in experience.


That's right -- I'm calling Dubray out on that one.


I'm a technology journalist who has had some minor experience in dealing with IT and working in Web design. I'm not trying to offer you my experience or act like an expert.


I've tried to be very honest about that, but sometimes it's a bit confusing, because I, like most of the other bloggers at IT Business Edge, am trying to do something a little bit different for blogs.


My goal is not to give you my advice or prove myself "right."


My goal is to cut through some of the technical jargon and "religious" wars to give you clear and, hopefully, actionable advice. I read hundreds of articles, white papers and blog posts. I spend hours every day searching for the best integration-related content. I interview experts and veterans and I have for nearly 10 years now.


Along the way, I find the best advice and the most clearly articulated positions on integration-related arguments, which I then give you in a neat little blog package every day.


I like the way Tony Baer of OnStrategies put it: I'm trying to make sense out of noise.


True, I may succumb to opinionated commentary at times. Hey, it's a blog, right?


Dubray is right, however, in saying that I'm not interested in "launching the fad du jour." And I do try to write objectively about what works and what doesn't -- although, with so many different voices and so many different experiences out there, it's trickier than it looks.


So, by all means, please do disagree, and heartily, if needed.


But please keep the real-world experiences coming -- it's what we're all looking for, as we try to piece together what works and what doesn't -- particularly when it comes to that often-elusive topic, SOA.