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While SOAs have been considered a best practice for over 30 years, the greatest barrier to success has been confusion in the market over which interface to adopt. Web services finally solve that problem, not only removing that tremendous barrier to the adoption of SOA, but enabling business and IT agility. So it is no surprise that to date the majority of the focus on SOA and Web services has been on the technical details of defining interfaces.

However, while the standard interface definition is the critical enabler of the system, the bottom-up approach has its limitations. If the focus is only on the interface specification, and not on how to define what functionality to expose as a service, companies will not reap the full benefits of SOAs. Increased business agility and decreased costs are dependent upon well-defined, well-managed, reusable services that are fast and easy to connect to. Unfortunately, there is no mathematical theory or methodology that can tell a developer whether the component or service is at the correct level of granularity to maximize reuse. The most commonly used method of creating business services is the trial-and-error approach. This usually means defining services in the context of a particular business process, then revising them for reuse in the next solution.

A top-down business approach to defining services will enable companies to better meet the current and future needs of the business. It starts with the business requirements. Each service should provide the functionality to meet one or more business requirements, and the set of functions should be closely related. This is called functional cohesion. However, the services should be loosely coupled. The processing within one service should not be dependent upon the state of processing in another. A service abstracts the functionality from the underlying technology.

Event-Driven Design

Defining business services in terms of business events offers a number of advantages. First, event-driven service-oriented architectures provide the most agile systems. In the ebizQ webinar, "Creating the New Enterprise Agility: Service-Oriented and Event-Driven”, Gartner VP Roy Schulte said, Agility generally involves event-driven business practices, facilitated by service-oriented architectures.” He used the analogy of trains and trucks to describe the agility of SOA. “Changing a truck’s direction is easier than making a train go where the tracks don’t. If you want the train to move over one foot, you have to do an immense amount of work tearing up and re-laying tracks,” Schulte said. “On the other hand, all you need to do to turn the more agile truck is move the steering wheel.”


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