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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

SOA's Achilles Heel: Faulty Enterprise Data

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As discussed many times here at "SOA in Action" and across ebizQ, service oriented architecture holds great promise for providing enterprise services that provide a "single view of the customer." The service may be configured to pull data from pre-selected sources that are vetted by IT and the business owner of the information.

However, what if it's the wrong information? 

That's the disturbing question put forth by Neal Fishman in the latest issue of SOA Magazine. As he puts it: "Should any information within the single view prove to be incorrect, all subscribing applications would have had access to the same incorrect data at the same time. Further, should a service that writes or manipulates data in the single view contain a bug, any element that is touched could be compromised."

Hence, perhaps the greatest weakness in SOA is not applications or service reusability, but the quality of the data the architecture is delivering. Fishman calls this issue an "Enterprise Pandemic" spread by "Viral Data." Since a highly service-oriented organization can spread viral data within minutes, this is the "knife's edge of SOA," he warns.

Fishman calls for a concerted and coordinated effort by all enterprise departments to identify and analyze data under their ownership. Data governance may be the best approach to assuring the viability of SOA.


One fortunate thing in this apparent mess is that SOA components may help with enterprise wide data quality improvement and prevention.

In my opinion SOA is a golden opportunity for getting the benefits from data quality tools that we haven’t been able to achieve so much with the technology and approaches seen until now.

I've written a piece about this here:


In a nutshell: Structured Data Autism.

You must take data seriously for SOA to be useful.

Data Objects must have Identifiers.

Identifiers must resolved to Metadata.

All of the above needs to be platform agnostic.

Example: Use HTTP protocol and then you end up with Hyperdata (or the essence of the Linked Data meme).


1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linked_Data
2. http://slidesix.com/view/SolvingRealProblemsUsingLinkedData


In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more


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