Tom Termini, co-founder of BlueDog, published a book earlier this year entitled The Zen of SOA. I am a longtime fan of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, so Tom's statement about the beauty of SOA struck a chord:
"As found in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in the 1970s, the classic paradigm of the dualistic nature of beauty in technology provides an excellent starting point for analyzing IT architectural practice."
Nice stuff indeed. Get to know the inner beauty of the system you helped create, what it looks like as a whole, and how it interacts with everything else. (Interesting sidenote: the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig, had a day job writing computer manuals. So he would very clearly grasp the Zen-ness of SOA.)
As Tom explains in a new interview with Rutrell Yasin:
"When I sat down to try to capture my philosophy and approach as a solutions architect, it merged naturally. The idea of Zen is a life view... In the context of marrying that approach to SOA, when I started with service-oriented architecture, it seemed very rational to me. And when you look at Zen it is the same. SOA is a very rational approach to the information technology world.... If you’re taking a journey through the wilderness and you see a large mountain ahead and it is kind of the way you naturally navigate, look at that mountain, it is the point I’m going to steer towards. Your overarching objective is that mountain. SOA fits that well. You got this overarching objective — you want to reconstruct your business processes so that essentially when you’re writing your Web services they’re supporting just those processes."
Tom also points out that most of the successful SOA projects he has seen were led by CIOs with an overarching vision of where they want the effort to go. "Having the top-down view is vital. If you’re not up high enough, you’re not going to see that mountain."