Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hey Ma look at me! I do SOA now.

One of the worst things about SOA has been the band-wagon jumping by vendors. These have fallen into broadly three groups
  1. Hey look something new, bugger its not technology, quick lets develop some implementation stuff and claim the badge anyway.
  2. Hey look its a techy thing, we do that already don't we? Quick jig and bob's your uncle.
  3. Bloody hell that has a lot of Buzz, lets slap some lipstick on the pig and claim its SOA.
The first group include the likes of IBM, BEA, Oracle, SAP, Sonic and a few others. Companies that have recognised that they don't have the current products to do the business impact side of SOA, but have at least recognised that their technology stack needs to be different to older style technologies (I'm talking about IBM product here BTW not things like CBM). So Oracle have actually built middleware, IBM have abandoned the old MQ based technologies for new development and BEA have clearly split application development from business as a domain. I'd lob REST in this group too. Behind the scenes they'll all say that they see the business thing, its just that they can't see how to build or flog products that do that right now.

The second group are the EAI vendors and the vendors who had some sort of "component" based approach and are just seeing XML and WS-* as another implementation pattern. They've pretty much decided that its a techy thing and its just another protocol for them to handle. These are the people who can't believe their luck. 2 years ago no-one was buying EAI, suddenly its an "SOA stack" and its popular again. At least these folks though are misunderstanding within a specific context (technology), they say that SOA is important, they just tend to stress technology and implementation more than the first group, often because they can't afford the re-development costs. They too see the business thing, but they are even further away from being able to do it than the first group.

The third group is the worst though, these are the people with a particular world view and a particular line to pedal who decide that "SOA cannot be done without X", linked from this post is an article by IDS Scheer on how SOA "requires" BPM, indeed how SOA "starts and finishes with business process". IDS Scheer are far from being alone in this group, but this is a cracking example of the sort of thing that is wrong with IT.

Here we have a paper in 2006 that actually does the WS = SOA thing, something that actually proposes that Services should be created bottom-up and it is process, including the execution level processes that drive and define SOA. I've talked about POA v SOA before but to be brief, if you start with process and do process based definition then you are doing POA and are 100% not doing SOA. On page 95 of Enterprise SOA Adoption Strategies I discuss how business process works in an SOA context (and the similarity of process & service at high levels of abstraction), but this isn't want IDS Scheer or the other "business" modelling tools are doing, what they are doing is taking exactly the same model they had before and just going "hey look if we consume a WSDL we are doing SOA".

This last group is easily the worst and most disreputable, particularly as they claim that they can model businesses effectively and are the most disconnected from the technology. Their claim that they are a requirement for SOA without actually offering anything that is SOA is quite gobsmackingly bold faced.

Anyway I hope everyone has a great break and comes back in 2007 ready to face SOA as a business challenge rather than as just technical implementation. Oh and to people around the world, there are two British Christmas things that you need to get, firstly Christmas Crackers and secondly Mince Pies. Christmas isn't Christmas without gunpowder, a silly hat and alcohol laced titbits.

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Neil Ward-Dutton said...

Hey Steve, was just going to try and blag a free copy of the book to do a review - then noticed I can get the PDF for free - wallop!

Nice bit of Christmas reading...

Dan said...


And let's face it, SOA is not the first thing these groups have attempted to pervert.

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