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13 December 2007

It was about SOA all along! (Chapter 1)

[cont. from previous post about my commented reading of Andy Mulholland’s book: “Mashup Corporations. The End of Business as Usual”].

Here are my thoughts after reading chapter 1 of the book “Mashup Corporations. The End of Business as Usual”.

This book illustrates its arguments with the help of a tale of a fictitious company Vorpal going through the process of implementing SOA. The authors do stress that it is a rather idealistic scenario, but I couldn’t help thinking that the way in which the realization of the need for a more flexible infrastructure came about, was unrealistic for most organizations today. You have this young clever marketing manager who explains to the CEO how he uncovered a new unsuspected source of income. In order for Vorpal to benefit from it, it had to find ways to allow online ordering flexibility.

The thing is, if you currently work in a (relatively large) organization where a n-2 manager can simply request for a meeting with the CEO to talk about an exciting personal experience that may be of interest to the company, already consider yourself lucky. Then if you are among the lucky ones, if the CEO does listen to your entire story in details, then calls in on the spot the CIO or any other senior directors to listen to it too and give their opinion, consider yourself to be privileged to work with an exciting CEO with a modern management style. Now, if your story is likely to end up initiating a formal project in which you will have a leading role, please tell me the name of your company to add it to my shortlist of preferred employers!

Anyway, the authors’ intentions were not initially to consider all the likely resistance to SOA adoption. Instead, the Vorpal scenario helps us understand typical reasons for needing SOA and a typical implementation process with its cultural, organizational and technical impacts. In this second edition of their book, the authors have added chapter 7 “Overcoming barriers”, after realising how important the challenge to convince decision-makers of the need for SOA was in many companies. So, I’ll come back to this issue after reading this chapter.

The key concept I will retain from this first chapter is the difference between “Hub IT” and “Edge IT” and that “SOA flourishes at the edges”, just inside the firewall or literally outside of it.
I will quote a very useful definition of Web Services: “[they] are standard approaches to exposing the capabilities of a company’s web site or internal systems to other web sites or systems by bypassing the user interface and connecting directly to the underlying technology”.

To be continued…

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