Thursday, June 04, 2009

Designing Services in the SOA World

The Grumpy Architect has appeared and apparently it's Brenda Michelson. What's making Brenda so grumpy? The state of software design especially as it relates to services. I'm not going to rehash the great points Brenda makes, please go read her post it's loaded with goodness.

I don't think there is any one reason why the state of service design is where it's at. Here are a few of the causes in my opinion:

*It's not taught or emphasized in CS programs. That's a generalization of course because some programs do but if you do a quick survey of undergraduate CS programs you will find very little emphasis on it. It does show up more in the grad level programs.

*We are to tool centric. We judge someone's competence in software design by how well they know the platform or tool. Give me someone who understands abstraction and loose coupling over someone who knows ever class in the .Net framework any day but produces 8000 line methods.

*The business, the business, the business. Don't underestimate the extreme demands placed on corporate software developers to churn stuff out. Developers and their managers take what they perceive to be the easy way out in order to meet the demands. That environment is very difficult to work in sometimes and the software design is usually what suffers.

*Time and motivation. Well if you didn't get it in school, you now have to learn it on the job. Some folks are self starters and some are not. Mentors and architects can help but they can only do so much.

*Short-sighted. Designing brittle, difficult to maintain and ultimately unsustainable software is actually really easy. We do tend to take the easy path.

I think one of the issues with the current state of SOA is that a lot of folks made the assumption that developers understood all of this and the software side of SOA was going to be the easy part. If you worked in a corporate IT environment you know nothing could be further from the truth. I have noticed especially in the past year that the amount of available information on the technical side of SOA is finally starting to catch up with the hype.

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