While my SOA gently weeps


November 12, 2012 by terryrichwhitehead

What makes SOA fail and do people actually understand what SOA is, are businesses and organisations just integrating a load of services and not designing and building the architecture?

SOA does not just happen; it is something that virtually everyone contributes to in some way across the whole business. Adopting SOA also calls for commitment, not just lip service but real commitment. SOA does present challenges that can come in many guises and it can be all too easy to slip into practice of stringing a few web services together, building a app(lication), satisfying users and project managers and calling it an SOA implementation. This is all well and good but you are not only just fooling yourself but the business or organisation as a whole. Short term gains like this just plant the seeds of despair. Strong words, maybe but I can understand the reasons as to why this happens, threats to building a SOA come from many directions and it is up to all involved in building the architecture to recognise these threats and take appropriate action. These threats can come from Vendors, the business, governance, staff and that all to important project.

Vendors, in the main are not interested in the architecture – they are more interested in selling you a product. Some only pay lip service to SOA or more simply they just don’t understand it. Simple answer to this, don’t let vendors drive your strategy.

The business can have a poor understanding of what SOA means to them, failure to fully engage the business will just lower the importance of SOA in their eyes. SOA demands support from the stakeholders, they really do need to understand the concept and be fully committed to making it a success, without this any SOA initiatives are doomed to failure. The answer to this means talking to the business, explaining to them what SOA means in a language that they understand. If you do not engage the business then SOA will become marginalised and you’ll find it very hard to get a second chance.

Resistance to or fear of change is a noose that will slowly choke an SOA implementation, SOA does mean change, but IT evolves, it changes  that’s why it’s an interesting field to work in. Adopting an SOA approach will more than likely change the makeup of IT departments. For example people’s roles can change; this should not be viewed as something negative. To me learning new skills is always a plus point. Having the right skill sets helps to avoid the fear of change and it is important that developers have the support in adopting this new way of working. The tools that have been used in the past may not now be right for the job now, Developers need to be made aware of these new tools and working environments. Here in Warwickshire developers are most welcome to visit us and engage in what the authority is doing.

SOA is not a project, a SOA is built by projects contributing towards the architecture. Failure to include contributing to the SOA in IT projects will undermine efforts to build the architecture. Developers and project managers must work together and share the same goal. When deadlines are tight and there is no full commitment to SOA then there is a real risk that the ideals of SOA will be disregarded in order to get the job done.

The lack of the G word (Governance), to most it’s something we treat with contempt, as we don’t like been told what to do, but the alternative is anarchy and that’s what you don’t need when building the architecture. All must stick to the guidelines, deviations from this must properly addressed, not in the form of a witch hunt but more to discover why there was a deviation, what caused it, the impact and if necessary reviewing the rules.

As a footnote to this post I felt that I was writing an article for ‘Relate’ (marriage guidance), but SOA is bit like a relationship where all parties have to be committed to it or else it fails.


2 thoughts on “While my SOA gently weeps

  1. Helen Anderson says:

    Sorry, I felt I was reading knitted fog here. How about a post on best practice SOA?

  2. I personally intend to save this particular blog post, “While my SOA gently weeps A Big Bang” on my very own website.
    Do you mind in the event I reallydo? Thanks a
    lot -Brittney

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