SOA: Where's the Respect?

Loraine Lawson

In March, I compared SOA to Abe Vigoda - rumored to be dead, but very much alive. This month, I'm thinking SOA is more like Rodney Dangerfield: Despite its success, SOA "don't get no respect."


SOA does well in surveys. Just this spring, a survey by Forrester Research found that seven out of 10 enterprises are working on SOA or plan to pursue it, and 77 percent of this group said they were satisfied with their SOA efforts.


Then again, only 31 percent said it had delivered most or all of the expected benefits.


Part of the problem seems to be that many organizations just don't "get" SOA. It was never supposed to be building services for single projects, but rather building services that could be reused. It was never supposed to be for one application, but rather an approach for your entire architecture.


Forget that and you can forget achieving its promised strategic goals. And yet, that's what has happened, according to Awel Dico, Ph.D., enterprise architect for the Bank of Montreal, and one of the leading authors of the recently released free guide, "Using TOGAF to Define and Govern Service-Oriented Architectures."


Dico told ZDNet's Joe McKendrick that this project approach makes it difficult to "justify the investment in service infrastructure ... As a result they fall back to their tactical implementation which cannot be reused by other projects down the road."


In his blog post, McKendrick explains how TOGAF hopes to change that.


Cloud computing companies are another group that don't "get" SOA, according to SOA expert and CTO of Blue Mountain Labs, David Linthicum. That's surprising to me, since their cloud cousin, SaaS, relies entirely on services, if not SOA. Like Linthicum says, cloud computing and SOA seem like a natural fit.


But no, and because of that, they're missing out on an opportunity to provide better solutions, Linthicum writes in this TechTarget column:

SOA has the ability to abstract cloud services into processes and composites, and turn those processes and composites into business solutions. The reality is that most cloud providers out there have no clue as to the value of SOA to their core business. Rather than capture that value, they move along the path toward the cloud by selling infrastructure rather than solutions.

The rest of his post is devoted to offering three tips on how cloud computing companies can leverage SOA.


By the way, to understand how data integration relates to SOA and vice versa, check out Linthicum's March post on Pervasive's blog, "SOA Comeback is Driven by Data Integration." It'll help you see why SOA deserves a bit of respect for supporting simpler integration.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jun 23, 2011 8:12 AM Chris Sanchez Chris Sanchez  says:

I agree SOA is alot like Rodney Dangerfield - misunderstood, no respect. But I want to introduce you to Rodney's uncle - Uncle Leo.

SOA is more like Uncle Leo which you had to call AFTER the party started when you realized that you forgot to invite him. Though Uncle Leo is a bit eccentric, you kind of know him and like him and he's a good add to a party. Besides being related to Rodney, he' got it going on.

Why is SOA like Uncle Leo? Because SOA is an architectural paradigm for integration and reuse at the enterprise level - that's where you get the bang for the buck, where the rubber hits the road, , etc. But, this often conflicts with a company's planning and operations model. Just like forgetting to invite Uncle Leo, SOA doesn't get invited to the party early enough to make a difference. Lines of business are siloed, portfolio decisions are made, budgets are locked in, and plans are set in motion. It's often too late to affect project decisions on the use of SOA because schedules are locked in, release dates are committed, and , etc. So rather than achieve the expected benefits and value SOA is capable of providing, it becomes an after thought, which is probably why 31% of the respondents admitted it met their all or part of their objectives.

What's a company supposed to do? SOA has to be part of, and integrated into, the process, and the culture has to change to embrace the vision of SOA as a powerful business enabler and have the power and commitment to realize that vision. SOA will have the greatest impact when it finally becomes integrated into the portfolio planning process when business and IT bring together their resources to identify strategic opportunities with tangible business and IT impact across the enterprise.

So as you're planning the party don't forget to invite Uncle Leo!

Jun 24, 2011 5:39 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

The reason it get's no respect is that people who don't understand technology parrot off terms like "SOA" and "Cloud Services" as if they are silver bullets that will change the future of computing forever.  They are terms driven primarily by marketing professionals, and not technology professionals.

These technologies have value, but the trick is knowing when to apply them as solutions to your problem.  When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.


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