Worst practices in SOA

Summary:We can learn a lot from mistakes, preferably someone else's. With that in mind, it's valuable to take a look at some of the early mistakes and worst practices exhibited by folks who have embraced the SOA movement.

We can learn a lot from mistakes, preferably someone else's. With that in mind, it's valuable to take a look at some of the early mistakes and worst practices exhibited by folks who have embraced the SOA movement. ZapThink's Jason Bloombergoffers an excellent set of mistakes to consider and (if possible) avoid. Among the top mistakes:

Putting SOA entirely in the hands of the IT department. "As enterprise architecture, SOA addresses a range of business problems through the application of IT resources," Bloomberg states. "As such, it is essential to a successful SOA rollout that the business drive the initiative. Ideally, a line-of-business executive should act as stakeholder and champion of SOA. Companies without such a champion often find themselves focusing on trees rather than the forest: they think of business requirements as a set of use cases that the technology must implement, rather than understanding the true business context of Service orientation."

Thinking you can buy SOA from a vendor. As ZapThink puts it, "products that vendors have architected internally in a Service-oriented fashion may not help you with your enterprise SOA initiative. Even so, there are many maturing products on the market that may truly contribute to the success of your SOA. However, you can buy the best SOA products on the market today, and you still won't have SOA. Buying the best tools won't make you a carpenter, after all. Remember, SOA consists of a set of best practices -- a discipline to follow, if you will. You can buy SOA from a consulting firm, but not from a vendor who doesn't offer SOA consulting as well."

Making SOA too difficult. While acknowledging thatSOA is indeed difficult (at this early stage of development), Bloomberg encourages us not to"make the mistake of thinking SOA is even more difficult than it has to be. It's not necessary to decompose all the business processes in the entire enterprise, or plan to reuse hundreds of Services, or tie together dozens of business partners in the first phase of your SOA rollout. Tackling too much too soon is a recipe for disaster. Instead of biting off more than you can chew, try tackling SOA in bite-size chunks. Plan an SOA pilot project with high ROI and relatively low risk. Pick a project that you're team can handle technically, with a line-of-business champion that can muster the budget and support necessary. Maybe the initial pilot offers only a few Services -- but by tackling the architectural planning as part of the pilot, SOA really isn't that difficult to implement, and can provide significant return for the business."

Excellent advice. Everyone in business is always obsessed with "best practices." However, we could probably create consistently great businesses by consistently avoiding the worst. That is certainly the case with SOA.

Topics: Enterprise Software

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