Musing more about Tuesday's SOA Executive Forum, one thought seems to stick out. A number of speakers described service-oriented architecture as the process of breaking applications into bite-size chunks to be delivered when and where they are needed.
Henry Ford was a fan of "chunking" -- he broke automobile production down into chunks when he mastered the assembly line. We saw the chunking of operational or office-based processes with the advent of the computer. When I became a director with the Administrative Management Society in the late 1980s and 1990s, the chunking of white-collar and administrative tasks into more standardized and automated tasks (word processing, reporting, database management) was sweeping through organizations.
Tom Peters, co-author of In Search of Excellence, talked about chunking as a strategy for breaking up complex tasks and projects into manageable components. Now, we are talking about the chunking of software itself. The question is -- and this was raised at Tuesday's sessions -- can we achieve simplicity by breaking down complex software operations into manageable, bite-size chunks? Or will things end up as brittle as the CORBA (Component Object Request Broker Architecture) efforts of the past decade? We'll see plenty of successes, and plenty of failures as well. And I'm sure at a conference 10 years from now, we'll be bemoaning the mistakes and flawed intentions of SOA.
But chunk we must.