Top 5 Things SOA Is Not (and What It Really Is)

5Number153786703During my many years of providing training and consultation on service-oriented architecture (SOA), I have seen many organizations struggle with its adoption. Often, the struggle is because people don’t really know what SOA is.

Let’s start with five things SOA is not.

  1. SOA is not a product. Vendors do not sell SOA; they sell products that support SOA development and speed up its adoption.
  2. SOA is not about web services. It is primarily about architecture and design. Web services are a practical result of this and an enabling technology.
  3. SOA is not “an IT thing.” It is not about technology, and even though the standards it promotes do simplify integration, that is not its main goal.
  4. SOA is not and never will be a magic bullet. It will not solve all your corporate IT problems in one fell swoop.
  5. SOA is not easy, and it is not a quick fix. Adopting SOA is a long-term commitment to better IT practices and system design.

Okay, so what is SOA?

SOA is all about architecture. It is about design and governing that design. It’s about how you design your services, service interfaces, data model, and business processes. SOA is about how you keep track of your services and how you control the design, definition, deployment, and distribution of your services and their artifacts. It’s about how you define a service contract and service-level agreement for your service consumers, and it’s about how to secure your services and how to react when things go wrong with them.

SOA can help to address issues of years of IT system neglect or the accumulation of decades of technical debt. It can provide a new path and approach that can dramatically reduce IT system degradation in the future and salvage existing legacy systems to the maximum possible extent. However, this will not happen overnight.

Finally, SOA requires a commitment from the whole organization. It cannot be driven solely by the IT department. Instead, it should involve the business from the very beginning, because it is not purely an IT concern.

This content was adapted from the Global Knowledge white paper How to Succeed at SOA.

Related Courses
Getting Started with SOA (WS007G)
Developing Applications for IBM WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus V7.5 (WB753G)
Designing SOA Solutions Using IBM SOA Foundation (WS008G)

About the Author
Global Knowledge instructor Dr. Adrian M. Rossi has been an IBM contractor since 2003. An IBM Certified Instructor for WebSphere, SOA, and JEE, Dr. Rossi helps organizations by providing guidance and strategic direction on the use of SOA and BPM methodologies, techniques, processes, standards, and best practices.

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