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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

SOA, Enterprise Architecture and a word of caution

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This is to draw caution. Service Orientation and Enterprise Architecture are without a doubt, the way. But a careless execution could spell failure for both.
 
SOA, in a W3C definition, means "a set of components which can be invoked and whose interface definitions can be published and discovered."  A dram too simple to my liking.

From an IT point of view, SOA is an integration technology for application services. A service is an application component which exposes an interface (hiding the internal implementation technology), published in a registry and eventually, dynamically discovered.
Web Services have been implementing the SOA paradigm over Web protocols. As a result, SOA is often associated to Web Services and its technologies (SOAP, XML, UDDI, WSDL...).

From a business angle, SOA is a style of business architecture design and, ultimately, a way of structuring your business. It enables a Business Oriented Architecture by allowing the business to define Enterprise workflows around reusable business services. The services and their interfaces have to be designed by the business cognizant, rather than the application developer.

SOA imposes a new business process design, implemented as an orchestration of loosely coupled SOA services. It is an evolution of BPM aiming to encapsulate and hide complexity in business services. In SOA, the business workflows will consist of orchestrated SOA services that encapsulate process, information and the technology implementing it.

What is the relationship between SOA and Enterprise Architecture (EA)?
A "Service Oriented Enterprise Architecture," SOEA, defined as an EA with an SO style of target architecture, would better describe the positioning of SOA with regard to EA.
The EA sets in place a method to achieve technology and organization alignment to business processes, strategy, and objectives.
SOA does cover architecture, but it does not specifically address business process automation, IT alignment to strategy..., even if it helps; it does not document the As-Is state like EA does; and it does not provide guidance for the development program as EA frameworks do.

SOA, as a style of business architecture, is adding value to the EA by enabling modularity at the business service level, and, as such, agility, reuse, Quality of Service, facilitating payback mechanisms and service contracts.

EA may be implemented without SOA at the cost of flexibility and agility. A stand-alone SOA development, solely driven by a service orientation architectural requirement, would fail to achieve the business needs and goals and would lack method.

SOA requires a large Enterprise process re-engineering and re-design effort, with significant consequences, at process, applications, infrastructure, and people Enterprise Architecture layers. Services will be reused, access will be enforced through SLA contracts, and a new SOA services governance will be in play, affecting the existing organization. SOA, given its scope and ambition, should be a joint business and IT effort, a key part of a full EA development, and not considered in isolation as a light IT Enterprise Integration effort.

More about it in this SOA whitepaper.

So long

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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