Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Champion for Services Architecture Done Right


I've heard a series of discussions lately and have read some articles that I've found rather frustrating, all on the topic of SOA. I've taken a few notes about my objections and had several blog posts planned where I would attempt to articulate the historical failures of software, services, and/or architecture makeovers performed by any number of consulting firms for large IT shops. I was going to discuss the horrible irresponsibility of basing business decisions on buzzword flinging cowboys, and the inevitable price that is paid by companies wooed and seduced by flash.

I was going to start this off by launching a strong criticism of Anne Thomas Manes' views on the "death of SOA", one that I'd read about in a recent article. It seemed that such a view was sensationalist and entirely missed the point of the essence of service oriented architectures.

But before I did that, though, I needed to do some research and present a solid argument, not just take some trade rag's version of the story with a superficial smattering of misquoted details. And holy cow... not only am I glad that I did this, but I am now an ardent fan of Ms. Manes, Vice President and Research Director at the Burton Group.

Her post SOA is Dead; Long Live Services is brilliant. The death of which she speaks is not the mortal (and figurative) soul of SOA itself -- any individual or magazine claiming as much has either completely misunderstood her or has been making its money on the misunderstandings and hype that she would like to see die. She asserts that the very heart of SOA continues to be badly needed, that "the requirement for service-oriented architecture is stronger than ever." She then goes on to say:
The acronym got in the way. People forgot what SOA stands for. They were too wrapped up in silly technology debates (e.g., “what’s the best ESB?” or “WS-* vs. REST”), and they missed the important stuff: architecture and services.
And finishes with this bit of excellence:
The latest shiny new technology will not make things better. Incremental integration projects will not lead to significantly reduced costs and increased agility. If you want spectacular gains, then you need to make a spectacular commitment to change.
And you know what? Her other posts are even better. While reading all of them, I was completely dumbfounded that she said so well and clearly what the industry has been misinterpreting for several years. Why are more people not listening to her? How did I not hear of her until now?! I'll tell you what, I'm now subscribed to Burton Group's Application Platform Strategies blog.

IT shops need to pay close attention to what this woman and her team have to say. She really knows what she's talking about and articulates her views exquisitely. That whole series of blog post I wanted to make? Yeah... she already did that :-) (and way, way better than I could have). Please, I beg you: go read her posts. If you are the director of your IT shop or someone to whom your director listens and respects and you have any interest in distributed services, messaging, and related architectures, go memorize her statements, summaries, arguments and positions. Let her experience and wealth of knowledge guide judicial and wise decisions at your company.

And remember, it is the good, well thought out, and cost-effective architecture that survives. It is this architecture -- with countless peers -- that serve as the basis for the next generation of improvements and advances. Technologies produced in this manner are the ones that propel us into the future and prepare us for a world which we are incapable of imagining or implementing today.


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