What Is SOA? And, If You Are Doing It, Is Your SOA Going To Die Before It Has A Chance To Live?

Before I start on this extremely polarizing topic, I really want to ask the question – do you want your SOA to be ineffective or die before it has a chance to live?

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, SOA does have a significantly big “blind spot,” which so often gets ignored due to the sheer size of the vehicle you are riding in – which I define as – the complexity of your enterprise infrastructure, the various avatars or stakeholders that are directly or indirectly impacted by integration challenges, departmental divides and ownership issues, debates around modernization, and of course, budget, time and resources.

Hopefully you answered the question with an emphatic NO!

I am not sure that anybody out there wants all their good money to go to waste after investing it in anything and everything that even remotely sounds like SOA. Such is the power of this paradigm called SOA, so rich in its roots and its promise that it is usually very difficult to “stick to” making a case against it, because on paper it promises you the agility that you are after.

But, the real question is whether your SOA is doing all that it promised it would. Is it able to round-up all its knights in shining armor, the EAI, ESB, BPM products of the world to ensure that it will deliver the most fresh, the most consistent and the most accurate information to its end users – the web portals, the composite applications, the business intelligence tools of this world?

As David Linthicum says in “Lack of Focus on Data Killing SOA” his recent blog post, What’s missing within most typical SOA projects is the focus on the data, and that is killing SOA. Since the “S” in SOA, means service, most architects focus on the service definition, abstracting the existing data into collections of services, but don’t pay much attention to the data within the architecture. Not good.”

I couldn’t agree with Dave more – although SOA is about “architecture,” most of us get caught up in handling the “service” piece of it and forget that the key to a good architecture is its foundation – the “data.”

In his blog, Dave goes on to say: “The truth is that most failed SOA projects can be traced to the lack of a data level understanding…”

What we don’t need is for SOA, which has so much promise, to die before it has a chance to live. Instead, what we need is a way to enable SOA to achieve its full potential by co-existing with its components and offering some much needed help around the integration of data.

I mentioned this in an earlier blog, Enough Already About What is SOA? Let’s Discuss Some Real-world Myths About SOA … that by taking away all the headache that comes with integrating heterogeneous data sources spread all across the enterprise and beyond; by proactively ensuring that the data that flows through the pipes is of the greatest quality; by seamlessly handling all the complex transformations and structure conversions that are needed and then processing this data the way it needs to be processed, be it for processing large data sets, or capturing changes as they occur or in real-time – you can then easily and seamlessly deliver this data as a standards-based service or a data service.

This is what SOA needs – a solid foundation of timely and trusted data delivered as a data service – so that it does not die before it has a chance to live!

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