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If you're implementing a service-oriented architecture (SOA) in your organization, you're probably seeking, among other things, a way to better align IT services with the day-to-day business processes in which your colleagues, customers, and partners engage. In order to do this well, organizational changes as well as technological ones will be required, yet both areas are fraught with potential snares if you're not careful.

While SOA can bring your organization closer to the place where business operations mirror technological systems and vice versa, the pitfalls that can happen in even the most diligent implementation are not to be underestimated. Our company has completed dozens of SOA engagements on behalf of our clients; here, we lay out the most common bugaboos -- some technical, some related to business processes.

  • Lack of standards and/or protocol compliance. Standards compliance is at the very core of SOA, but not all of the vendors who have a stake in its success have recognized that fact -- or, more likely, they perceive that their strength lies in their ability to differentiate their products' features from those of others, thereby confounding the whole concept of standardization in the first place. But that's another story.

To begin with, realize that not all open-source products available today comply with Web Services Interoperability, commonly known as WS-1, even though it is the broadly accepted industry standard. In one of our SOA projects, we used IONA's Artix Advanced SOA Infrastructure Suite as the SOA backbone to expose a layer of business services to be consumed by other applications, including the open-source SugarCRM, Jira for bug-tracking, SAP and Sage for assorted ERP functions, and some homegrown applications. Artix also let us expose certain fine-grained services to the organization's open-source, custom and proprietary applications.

Yet as we integrated SugarCRM and Jira, we realized that both exposed their Web services using Remote Procedure Call encoding. However, WS-1-compliant Artix neither supports nor enforces RPC-encoded services. We did not identify the problem until implementation; thus, we had to develop a method of handling RPC-encoded services, creating a six-week delay to address myriad service dependencies.


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