Whether you're from the "All Hail, it's SOA" cheerleading camp or the "oh hell, it's SOA" detractors squad, one thing's for sure: SOA is solidly rooted in the land of now. "SOA is not coming; it's here. There's a 99% chance some SOA has infiltrated your company already, whether or not you chose to go there," says Frank Kenney, research director at Gartner Research. "Just about every technology is built on SOA these days," he says.
SOA is touted for its efficiency and agility, and if at least some of the stuff is already in place, indeed in every place, why isn't anyone getting to clock out and go home early?
"SOA is the latest phase of a constant evolutionary march toward greater functional decomposition and distribution on the network," explains Paul Strong, distinguished research scientist at eBay. "Modularity and reuse offer greater flexibility, agility and return on investment. However, it also drives you towards managing more and more things, managing the explosion in the number of relationships between them, and managing the life cycles of both the [services] and the relationships."
It's the problems within the relationships that keep most IT people up at night, and those usually begin with defining the affair.
"Reuse is the consistent focus among CIOs in the United States, but it isn't the issue among CIOs in South America, South Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific," observes Kenney. Outside the States, he says, the worry is not over saving IT staffing costs, which can be quite minimal, it's over milking every last advantage from what the company already has in "parts, processes and people, even old legacy assets." "Here it's about reuse, there it's about business processes," says Kenney. "But it's the combination of BP and reuse that's really interesting."
That may be true, but reuse is still part of the coupling so how is one to get from the proposal to actually marrying the various and sundry elements? "As a general rule, to achieve maximize benefits, reuse those services that your programmers use in many applications," advises Julie Craig, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). "Better advice would be to find yourself the best SOA architect you can find, and let him or her make those decisions."
Like a high-dollar wedding planner, an SOA architect can spare you mistakes and embarrassments while making the big event relatively painless, mostly by eliminating any unforeseen and unwanted surprises.
"As the SOA program takes shape in an enterprise, complexities tend to increase as the concept of reuse is not practiced and monitored at times," says Dr. Santosh Mohanty, head of Global Technology Excellence at Tata Consulting Service (TCS), a leading global IT services and consulting firm aka SOA architects.
According to Mohanty, establishing an SOA governance mechanism will define and establish the policies and procedures to manage ownership of services, streamline the mechanism for communicating about the services available, ensure reuse and measurement of design-time, run-time and change-time metrics. "This enables enterprises to proactively manage any cost overrun effectively and ensures that the SOA program is under control," he says.