SOA path: Core business flexibility

SOA path: Core business flexibility

Summary: The most interesting path in Forrester's six path SOA framework (see previous post) is the one that leads to "core business flexibility." As analyst Randy Heffner explains, this path "identifies places where business change is slowed by application delivery schedules and restructures processes, message flows, data structures and application integration paths to enable faster application change.

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The most interesting path in Forrester's six path SOA framework (see previous post) is the one that leads to "core business flexibility."

As analyst Randy Heffner explains, this path "identifies places where business change is slowed by application delivery schedules and restructures processes, message flows, data structures and application integration paths to enable faster application change. Service orientation is the foundation of this transformation."

While the other five paths to SOA create "important business flexibility by creating a collection of service interfaces that can be invoked in many ways from many sources," the core business flexibility path "takes flexibility a step further by building greater flexibility into the services themselves."

Take Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals Group. It had separate applications for expenses, invoices and project accounting. However, SOA enabled it to unify approval processes with a common user interface and common service interfaces across multiple apps. "Managers now can process multiple types of approvals in one one place," writes Heffner. "[Pfizer] can specify approval policies more naturally in a declarative way, and changes in policy do not require changes to application code."

Nevertheless, Heffner points out there are "no options on the horizon for a clean, integrated and complete SOA platform for core business flexibility. Instead, you will need to integrate multiple infrastructure elements."

The business justification? "Because the core business flexibility path represents a strategic level of investment in the future of the business, any major implementation requires strategic vision and execution-level commitment," he writes. "On the other hand, you may pursue targeted flexibility for a limited scope of business activity. By limiting your intial scope, it may be easier to reduce implementation risk, focusing on specific business improvements that can provide concrete justification for smaller-scale investments. Success at this level may be promising enough that the business is willing to take a measured risk in a larger-scale investment in the potential for future flexibility."     

Topic: Enterprise Software

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  • The fundamental flaws in SOA

    SOA is based on two technologies that are fundamentally inflexible and code intensive.

    1. Object orientation. OO may be okay as a programming technique, however the vast majority of corporate data sits in SQL databases. Almost every attempt so far to integrate the two approaches so far have been based on fundamental logical misunderstandings that lead to more code and lower flexibility. The object orientation people appear to have fallen asleep during their logic courses and don't understand the difference between a type and a relation.

    This means that in order to access data, instead of having a standard query language we have thousands of application specific routines. A disaster for flexibility and maintainability.

    2. XML. Now anyone that has programmed in COBOL can see immediately that XML schema exactly parallels COBOL file descriptions. Moreover it has the faults inherent in COBOL file handling. On the whole if someone is enthusiastic about XML they have shown themselves to be profoundly ignorant the basis principles of data management and of the history of the industy they work in.

    In short SOA is not the future but a reiteration of previous mistakes all bundled together, this is not, repeat not, going to make any of them work better together.

    SOA is a disaster in the making. The wise will steer well clear.
    jorwell
  • SOA = No margin for profit

    SOA offers better this and better that - that's nice. It COULD be the greatest thing since sliced bread! But if there are no bakers and no bakeries - how do you get that sliced bread?

    SOA represents a paradigm shift that won't happen. First, you have to be willing to change ALL of your business processes, and rely on a website being up for you to do business. Secondly, you must be willing to do all of this WITHOUT a large computer partner. If your only throat to choke is SalesForce.com - who the heck will do this?
    Roger Ramjet