Monday, June 26, 2006

Gartner Analyst reveals ignorance

One of the truly scary things about SOA is when people boldly stand up, open their mouths, and make themselves look very silly indeed. Massimo Pezzini, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Inc. sets new levels for this however. Beating out the previous winners who said that "SOA = WS" Massimo goes for the jugular of bad description with the phrase

"the secret few SOA gurus want to let out of the bag: SOA is an update of classic client/server."


Its couched around that "people were doing SOA in the 90s" bit, claiming he was pushing SOA in 1996 and preaching to the converted, but people didn't call them services. I worked on a project in the early 90s where we used the term services, it was 100% not client server as that term meant very little in an environment where event the bit that did the UI was also considered to be a server, indeed everything was both client and server. So yup SOA isn't new (just like OO wasn't new in the 90s), but that doesn't mean everyone was doing it, just in the same way as all the C programmers claiming they did OO was rubbish, so is the statement that client/server = SOA.

SOA is not an update of client server, at least not in my world. SOA is about changing the way you think about systems and having that change the way you implement them.

The good news for Massimo is that he clearly is part of the crowd over at Gartner

"Advanced SOA" might be the term for future SOA implementations moving beyond request and reply.
-- Jeff Schulman, group vice president for Gartner
Advanced or just plumb obvious? That system in the 90s I worked on (or the ones I worked on in the late 90s and in 2000) all mixed RPC with events, throwing in a bit of pub/sub when required and even fire and forget. Not just doing request/reply doesn't make something "advanced" it makes it sensible.

The biggest problem here is that this is what drives the product vendors to get onto the magic quadrants, which in turn drives quite a bit of IT procurement out there. And if people flogging old client/server as "SOA" are now included into the mix then we really aren't going to address the fundamental problem.

The only benefit here is that this underlines the point that if SOA is to succeed it can't be about the technology. These analysts are talking about ideas that have repeatedly failed to deliver on their promises as being the thing to do. This can't be what SOA is about otherwise it will go the same way as all these other technology, and analyst, led pushes... into ignominious failure. SOA is about changing the way you architect your solutions, this means thinking differently and then having that thinking impact delivery. Technology is the thing you add after you've done your service architecture.

Gartner have dropped into the SOD IT trap, confusing technology delivery with architecture. Someone throw them a rope.

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Anonymous said...

Well, well, would you believe it, a bunch of in-experienced, non-architects making proclamations about architecture and technology and..........

......they turn out to be wrong! Analysts, vendors and a whole bunch of monkey programmers all happy in their little disconnected, non-analytical, un-thinking world - sure they'll have a great time inventing a new "hot tech" soon.

It never ceases to amaze me - if you're going to achieve something you need clarity - SOA as a term never had clarity, too many different meanings and overtones. How the heck could anyone ever execute on that?

How ass-backward could one possibly get? I know let's invent a new term and then we'll backfill with what it really means as we go. And in a superb ironic twist, everybody moans it has no clarity but continues to behave in a fashion that ensures there will never be any clarity.

And these people are building systems.........

Neil Ward-Dutton said...


This links into the whole SOA 2.0 discussion Steve. Gartners move to "version" SOA clearly comes from the same mistake they're making here: that it's about physical technology implementation, not a way of thinking about how IT systems deliver value.