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What’s Next for SOA?

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 Discussing SOA future, Joe McKendrick asks in his new post

What’s the next step for service oriented architecture? Many see it melding with other disciplines, as it doesn’t make for a business case on a standalone basis - a business is going to demand streamlined customer care, or a more responsive ERP system, but never just "SOA"

Regarding SOA’s evolution in the future, McKendrick sees several different directions where SOA can go.

Merging with the Enterprise architecture. According to Loraine Lawson, SOA will be included into enterprise architecture (EA) as one of the options. In her opinion this will benefit both - EA will have an additional tool in its toolbox while SOA will benefit from a bigger picture provided by EA.

Cloud computing. A lot of publications consider cloud computing an SOA savior. According to McKendrick:

... SOA-enabled services are, in many respects, private cloud services. And an effective cloud structure needs sound service orientation underneath

David Linthicum goes even further by stating that:

A close look discloses that cloud computing is SOA, and SOA is cloud computing.

EAI. From the very beginning of SOA it was viewed by many practitioners as a better approach to EAI implementations. A recent ebizQ and TechTarget event, "SOA and Application Integration in Action", had a panel, :"Building Out Integration Infrastructure with SOA', dedicated to this topic.

According to McKendrick:

This makes perfect sense, since the challenge SOA is addressing is bringing together a spaghetti mishmash of applications together for the business.

BPM. Numerous publications have discussed the commonalities and interdependencies between SOA and BPM. In McKendrick’s opinion:

... business process management depends on the ability to de-construct and re-construct processes that are supported by automation.

Nothing in this discussion seems really new, so why is it resuming now?

... vendors have gotten antsy to move on to The Next Big Thing, and many have toned down talk of being exclusively SOA suppliers.

writes McKendrick.

Such discussions seem extremely artificial and do not really have anything to do with defining or redefining SOA. It was defined several years ago as

... an architectural style promoting the concept of business-aligned enterprise service as the fundamental unit of designing, building, and composing enterprise business solutions.

In spite of that, many practitioners still consider SOA as a technology platform, which is causing all of this confusion.

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Community comments

  • The meaning of SOA

    by Kevin Grainer,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    I am a partner and consultant for a systems integration company. From our point of view SOA is just a more disciplined approach to connecting systems. It also happens to be a great way to categorize our work. To most people SOA means connecting systems via web services, which is at least partially true. The challenge is educating people that building a bunch of web services doesn't solve anything and that there are cases where web services are not the best solution. Quality systems integration work requires entity discovery and modeling, business process mapping, and lots of system analysis. I think that a lot of people go down a path of system integration before they even know what data they are actually exchanging between the systems. That's what I think is nice about SOA, you can actually point to something to say "We need to align our data with the business needs and that requires data discovery and modeling".

    Kevin Grainer

  • Re: The meaning of SOA

    by Boris Lublinsky,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    I do not think that positioning SOA as an improved EAI approach represents a true meaning of SOA.
    The fundamental difference is that SOA is about creating business aligned service. While implementation of these services can and often is build using EAI, the purpose here is quite different. Services create a business aligned interfaces to the IT assets that are used to building enterprise business processes and other enterprise solutions. It effectively abstract out current state of enterprise IT introducing a decoupling layer allowing both - building enterprise solution based on a business aligned interfaces and change underlying service implementation at the same time.

  • yet another SOA fact

    by Bernd Schuller,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    "A close look discloses that cloud computing is SOA, and SOA is cloud computing."


  • Re: yet another SOA fact

    by Ragnar Westad,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.


    Wich reminds me of this:
    "When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."


  • SOA and EAI

    by Rajesh Raheja,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    SOA is only one of the ways to do EAI and EAI is one of the ways to use SOA. Even though it can help EAI with the "spaghetti mishmash", without adequate governance, SOA has the potential to actually introduce even more of the spaghetti mishmash albeit using new service oriented technologies. SOA Governance is usually takes second place when it comes to such EAI discussions till a point where the application teams involved realize that strong enforcement of SOA policies is needed in a centralized manner to really yield the benefits.

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