Everybody Needs SOA


(With apologies to Baz Luhrmann)

Ladies and Gentleman of the class of 2011, adopt SOA. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, SOA would be it.

The long term benefits of SOA may not yet have been proven and my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Expect SOA to give you benefits, but like everything else in life there is a trade-off: flexibility v performance; short term costs v long term savings; re-use v creativity.

Everybody Needs SOASOA is not as new or radical as you imagine. You already provide services, follow processes and use messaging. SOA gives some standards and rigour to extend the analogy to higher levels of value to your organisation.

Don’t mention SOA to your sponsors – it will just send them to sleep. Talk business value, process improvement or market agility, even if it sends you to sleep.

Don’t look for a quick fix to SOA. It is a journey that will bring increasing value over time, but you can begin small and take small steps to achieve greatness.

SOA tools are just in their teens. They will refuse to do anything you want them to do; they will be rude to you; and they will embarrass you in front of your users. Treat them firmly, but nurture them to maturity.

Keep your old systems. You never know when you might need them again. Re-use them by building facades to make them look and feel like services to the new process-driven world.

Start your SOA journey at the beginning, as you would any new adventure. Plan what you want – the Strategy. Visualise your goal – the Future State Architecture. Work out how to get there – the Roadmap.

Do not read analyst reports, they will only make you feel inadequate.

Get to know your users, you never know when they’ll be gone for good (and taken their business elsewhere).

Understand that TLAs come and go, but for the precious few you should hold onto: WWW; BPM; XML; SOA.

Accept certain inalienable truths: users don’t know what they want, but they know what they don’t want; CFOs will cut your budgets, but not theirs; half of your IT spend is wasted, but you don’t know which half until you have spent it. Use SOA to control these negative forces.

Respect your elders. They might not know AJAX, but their solutions work, and they have seen it all before.

Don’t worry about the future, but make the present as effective as possible. The real problems you will face are things that never crossed your mind last year, so use SOA to build in change management as a way of working.

De careful whose advice you buy and make sure you use it wisely. Be even more careful with free advice – it can cost you a fortune.

Oh, and wear sunscreen.

Author: John Moe is Head of Business Integration at Tori Global, and writes and presents widely on SOA and BPM. With over 25 years experience delivering application development and business transformation programmes, John has made most of the mistakes you will ever make and is keen to pass on this knowledge to help you avoid them yourself. In return he just expects undying gratitude and free drinks wherever he goes.




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