SOA without service-enabled applications?

SOA without service-enabled applications?

Summary: "SOA Possible Even Without Service-Enabled Apps."This is a statement that goes against the conventional wisdom, so, being a fan of things that go against conventional wisdom, I checked out this Q&A interview with Shailender Kumar, vice president of Oracle Fusion Middleware for Oracle India, to see what his thinking was.

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"SOA Possible Even Without Service-Enabled Apps."

This is a statement that goes against the conventional wisdom, so, being a fan of things that go against conventional wisdom, I checked out this Q&A interview with Shailender Kumar, vice president of Oracle Fusion Middleware for Oracle India, to see what his thinking was. I wasn't dissapointed.

As Kumar put it, the idea that SOA requires that participating applications be service-oriented is a "myth." Most IT shops, in fact, will have a mix of approaches. There will be legacy systems, and there will be "modern" systems, there will be all kinds of middleware and messaging brokers. As he explains it:

"If you have an application that is service-enabled, and a whole bunch of applications that are not service-enabled, you can still connect these by deploying adapters. Once [people] realize that, they start to see where SOA can fit in bringing connectivity between diverse transaction engines."

Oracle's strategy is to position Fusion as the platform that will bring together a lot of diverse assets from across the enterprise into a service layer, and, not surprisingly, this is reflected in Kumar's statement. But unless an organization throws out all its systems and starts entirely from scratch these days, most SOA efforts will be very ungainly and unique contraptions -- and that's okay. In surveys I have seen and conducted, even the most advanced SOA-savvy companies have less than 20% of their portfolios SOA-ready. And, of course, JBOWS is the predominant architecture at this point. And that's okay, too. It's a stage in evolution. And in all likelihood, there will be no compelling need to service-enable 100% of everything.

But SOA is in a lot of places, Kumar also reminds us. For example, every time we order from Amazon (an Oracle Fusion customer), the order is processed via a service-oriented framework.

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11 comments
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  • This is EA or IA

    ?If you have an application that is service-enabled, and a whole bunch of applications that are not service-enabled, you can still connect these by deploying adapters. Once [people] realize that, they start to see where SOA can fit in bringing connectivity between diverse transaction engines.?

    I say this a lot--SOA isn't an architecture. It is a style. Parts of an architecture may be SO, other parts may not. An architecture can address them all, be it an enterprise architecture or an integration architecture.
    reamon
    • Re: This is EA or IA

      "SOA isn't an architecture. It is a style." I like that way of describing it. (A lot of folks would insist on adhering strictly to the "architecture" nomenclature, though.)

      I have also often said here that SOA is a "philosophy" as well.
      joemckendrick
      • True on the architecture part

        There are definitely 2 schools of thought:

        SOA is a style, the SO part being applied to A where the scope of A is not addressed.

        SOA is an architecture, the scope of A being implicitly at the enterprise level.

        There are also those that agree SOA is a style, but can only be reasonably applied at a particular scope/level (most often EA).

        I'm a fan of keeping the style and the scope separate.

        "Scope" architectures include: business, enterprise, integration, application, infrastructure. There are probably others.

        "Style" architectures include: service-oriented, event-driven, RESTful, model-driven, object-oriented, document-oriented, client-server, n-tier, shared nothing, etc. Lots of these running around.

        IMO, a scope architecture will use (should use) multiple styles. In this view, SOA is both imcomplete (service-orientation isn't the only thing needed for a robust architecture) and ambiguous (the scope of the architecture is unspecified).

        An EA can be SO, but that won't be all that it is.
        reamon
  • SOA requires that (most) components be services

    "...the idea that SOA requires that participating applications be service-oriented is a ?myth.?"

    Participating applications may be service clients and that would fit in nicely with SOA. If by "adapter" he means a service front-end, then it fits nicely too.

    But for an application to be considered a provider, it *must* be service-oriented. The implementation does not need to be SO, but its public face needs to be a service.
    reamon
  • Single Vendor SOA

    I'm not fully convinced by any of IBM, Microsoft, SAP or Oracle "SOAs".

    Seems to me that their best interest would be to pull people down into their own stacks, and that these solutions are usually driven out of the vendor platform "camps" or "tribes" within the superplatform vendor.

    If that's the case, regardless of the quality of the technology it's being used to foment a siloed agenda and is therefore a beautifully crafted weapon (at best) being wielded for a regional or tribal agenda as opposed to being truly enterprise class...
    mikojava
    • Re: Single Vendor SOA

      Yes, a single-vendor solution also runs contrary to the whole purpose of SOA. SOA is about vendor independence. Of course, the reality is many organizations have groups trained, certified and dedicated to specific platforms. It's going to take a while to break that mindset.
      joemckendrick
      • Single vendor is okay

        SOA is about services, not vendors.

        SO principles don't care if one uses one vendor or 1000 vendors.

        What matters is the architecture definition and the components specified within. Mapping architecture components (providers, consumers, etc.) to technology isn't an SO exercise.

        Being vendor independent may be a good thing. But that's not an SO concern.
        reamon
  • Fusion might be a good tool to use

    "Oracle?s strategy is to position Fusion as the platform that will bring together a lot of diverse assets from across the enterprise into a service layer,"

    That's dangerously close to saying "buy Fusion and you get SOA."

    ?If you have an application that is service-enabled, and a whole bunch of applications that are not service-enabled, you can still connect these by deploying adapters. Once [people] realize that, they start to see where SOA can fit in bringing connectivity between diverse transaction engines.?

    That describes an EA or IA, portions of which are SO. Applying the "SOA" label in this case seems misplaced.
    reamon
  • RE: SOA without service-enabled applications?

    Joe,

    Agree service 'enablement' doesn't have to be at the application function level. Primary reason i see is why service layer should be separate is that irrespective of whether a service is built from one single source or as a composition of functions from multiple source systems, it should provide the business function in the best possible way. Also keeping services separate from applications that currently provision them makes a lot of sense in terms of loose coupling etc as well.
    santhoshp2004
    • Service-enable instead of upgrade

      Yes, and I think Oracle and other large enterprise app vendors understand quite clearly that with a service layer, companies aren't forced into the latest upgrade of their ERP system. Instead, they can put additional functionality into the service layer as a workaround.
      joemckendrick
  • RE: SOA without service-enabled applications?

    Agree.. A robust SOA hub like Oracle's SOA Suite is good enough I guess to service enable the legacy or SOA-ready applications.. I have done some PoCs using it - it is fantastic.
    harshalkp