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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

Podcast: How the SOA Manifesto Validates Service-Oriented Values

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For years now, companies and their IT department have been building and deploying service after service after service. Service oriented architecture is the way to pull all these services into an orchestrated, well-governed framework that can be easily configured by the business as its needs change. However, there has been no shortage of confusion over what SOA is, and what it can do.

That's the observation of Ali Arsanjani, a co-author of the SOA Manifesto, and distinguished engineer with IBM Global Business Services and is CTO for SOA and emerging technologies at IBM. ebizQ Managing Editor Jessica Ann Mola recently spoke with Ali about why business value is so important to service oriented architecture. (Listen to the podcast here; full transcript of the discussion available here.)

"I get a lot of questions on the service proliferation syndrome," he relates. "For example, a company comes to me and says, hey, we have thousands of services and these services are beginning to become increasingly complex and difficult to manage, each were developed for a very specific purpose implementation, they were optimized but we can't share the services, and managing, and governing then are now a problem." 

Ali points out that the recently adopted SOA Manifesto provides a picture of the values that are important in service orientation efforts. "If we have these values in front of us from the get-go as we enter into the cycle of adoption of SOA, it allows us to benefit greater and avoid some of the rework that we have to do and the backtracking that we have to do otherwise," he illustrates. "The values basically strike a balance between different conflicting concerns." 

Core values of the Manifesto include the following:

  • Business value over technical strategy
  • Strategic goals over project-specific benefits
  • Intrinsic interoperability over custom integration
  • Shared services over specific-purpose implementations
  • Flexibility over optimization
  • Evolutionary refinement over pursuit of initial perfection

Principles supported by the above core values include the following:

  • Respect the social and power structure of the organization.
  • Recognize that SOA ultimately demands change on many levels.
  • The scope of SOA adoption can vary. Keep efforts manageable and within meaningful boundaries.
  • Products and standards alone will neither give you SOA nor apply the service orientation paradigm for you.
  • SOA can be realized through a variety of technologies and standards.
  • Establish a uniform set of enterprise standards and policies based on industry, de facto, and community standards.
  • Pursue uniformity on the outside while allowing diversity on the inside.
  • Identify services through collaboration with business and technology stakeholders.
  • Maximize service usage by considering the current and future scope of utilization.
  • Verify that services satisfy business requirements and goals.
  • Evolve services and their organization in response to real use.
  • Separate the different aspects of a system that change at different rates.
  • Reduce implicit dependencies and publish all external dependencies to increase robustness and reduce the impact of change.
  • At every level of abstraction, organize each service around a cohesive and manageable unit of functionality.
Ali points to the first two key principles presented in the Manifesto: "Respect the social and power structure of an organization, recognizing the SOA ultimately demands change at different levels within that organization." 

This statement spells out how SOA is not just about one project, he explains. "It's not just about a specific implementation but has a broader connotation  and that the scope of SOA adoption tends to vary and you want start small and increase in terms of meaningful boundaries.  Many of these things are obvious for people who have been doing SOA and projects in general for a long time."  

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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