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Simple IT: SOA Done Right

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In 1656 in his Lettres provinciales Pascal wrote:

I have only made this letter rather long because I have not had time to make it shorter.

The same applies to Architecture. Creation of a simple architecture typically requires more time than creation of a complex one. According to Steve Jones:

... I believe... the SIMPLE pictures that describe a business architecture are either not drawn at all or are abandoned because of their simplicity. People, architects especially, don't like putting in place the rigor and control that is required to deliver a simple solution, it’s much easier to deliver a blob and let people cope with it in support. Simplicity isn't a valued commodity because it doesn't allow people to show off their understanding of complexity.

So what constitutes a Simple IT? In his latest post Steve Jones defines it as:

... it comes down to a few key questions
  1. Can your IT estate be described as a series of discreet elements?
  2. Can each of these elements be easily maintained within their business context?
  3. Can each of these elements be simply described?

Explaining the meaning of these principles, Jones continues:

This comes down to that old principle of "one thing well", in IT this... mean... the building blocks of a simple IT strategy are not all of the same size, they are of the size that makes sense within the context of the business architecture... In a simple IT approach the focus is always on the on going evolution of the IT estate in line with business strategy and not based on a single project delivery.

According to Jones:

... the focus of simple IT is to value
  • Long term evolution over short term expediency
  • Architectural clarity over coding efficiency
  • Business Strategy over IT strategy

Which comes very close to the definition of SOA:

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

Summarizing his view on IT simplification, Jones writes:

The point here is that simple IT is not actually about making a single project faster, it’s about making the 2nd project and its support faster and more efficient. This means having control and direction into which the right approaches can be used... This is about having the business architecture, having the heatmap, and then aligning IT clearly into those areas.

Jones’ post emphasizes once again that SOA done right is not about technologies, like Web Services or ESB platform; it’s about using business-oriented decomposition for designing services. That is the only way to create IT systems representing enterprise business concepts, which allows driving IT costs in-line with their business value, creating clear traceability between business and IT and managing IT based on the different business value areas.

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