Monday, March 24, 2008

How's SOA?

This seems like a strange question since most field IT folks (not analysts) are still not really sure what SOA is or how to implement it. Is a year really long enough to give organizations time enough to get their stuff together? How many IT shops have the luxury of stopping time and focusing on changing the way they build applications? Isn't SOA really an iterative journey over a longer period of time? Todd Biske wrote a very good post on Setting SOA Expectations.

Todd was inspired by this post from Anne Thomas Manes who was looking for SOA success stories. Although Anne painted a pretty bleak picture I not sure enough time has past to call it a day and move on to the next set of buzz words. This quote from Anne in particular got me thinking:

This company reorganized IT around functional capabilities (rather than business units) and established strong positive and negative incentives that encourage people to adopt a better attitude toward sharing. I'm beginning to think that this is the only path to SOA success.


I not sure I would go along with this train of thought. The dynamics of a company, the personnel in the IT shop, the business landscape the company plays in, the size of the company are all factors that shape the way an IT shop functions. There is no one size fits all. What works for one organization is probably not going to work for another. Still I think there is potential value to be had on the road to an SOA style of architecture and the sharing of best practices. That doesn't mean all best practices will work for us or are required for us to derive value.

Okay my next post will be back to more technical in nature(XML Schema). I know you can hardly wait, XML Schema discussions make for such fun dinner conversation.

3 comments:

Chris Haddad said...

For the last five years, Anne and I have been covering SOA at Burton Group. We agree that a specific best practice, architecture, or technology may not work in across all environments, and we also agree there is 'potential value to be had on the road to an SOA style of architecture'. Back in 2006, we published an updated SOA Roadmap Report outlining a recommended path. We are now reviewing the state of corporate expectations, adoption, and plans with an open mind in order to refine our guidance based on identified breakdowns, trends, and success stories. stay tuned....

Mark Griffin said...

Hi Chris,
Thanks for stopping by. I've read the SOA Roadmap (In fact Anne was at my old company discussing a lot of it with us) as well as a lot of other Burton material in the past couple of years. I've always found it to be very very detailed and well thought out.

That started me thinking though about how it translates to smaller IT shops and companies. Large corps generally have much bigger teams to dedicate to this stuff. How are small to mid-size companies engaging this new wave of architecture. I can speak to my own experience both in large shops and small but it would be really good to hear from others.

How do you balance the daily demands of the business with budding new architectures? How can these best practices and roadmaps be put into place in environments that are highly competitive with blistering paces and a very small staff?

I think this would make for some interesting dialog as long as we collectively don't kill SOA off before it has a chance to get started.

Chris Haddad said...

A major factor in successful SOA projects is collaboration, credibility, and trust. A community of interest where individuals have established relationships, depend upon each other, and have mutual goals will support and environment of sharing. Maybe we should setup SOA Outward Bound field trip.....

We have seen SOA succeed in large and small organizations. Smaller organizations have an edge because limited funds create an environment where high efficiency and productivity is required to survive as a going concern. Small companies build re-usable application frameworks because they don't have the budget to re-invent the wheel on each project....