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Back to Earth after my Channel 9 video.

In this post I want to discuss some of my recent experiences implementing SOA.

It’s important to take everyone with you.

SOA is a Sea-Change in the way programs are developed and implemented in an organisation. The concept of an ‘Application’ is very much redefined.

It’s so important that the reason why are communicated not only to key stake-holder in business, but everyone in the I.T department, specially those that are at the coal face doing the work. You really need there buy-in or forget it till you do.

Many developers are not totally convinced of the benefit of SOA and they are right, not everything can be solved by a SOA implementation, so it’s important to communicate the scope and the goal. It’s also important that you listen to what they have to say as many are the domain experts.

Vendors will not always support your SOA.

Some vendors will not provide an easy API into their software so you can not hook up to their software easily on the data entity layer or ESB.

Your choices here are few, the mains ones seem to be export data from it, de-scope it, and pay them to come up with a solution.

There are other smaller avenues such as screen-scraping but this is just messy and adds a complexity that could have little benefit.

Also another problem is that vendors go out of business and you are left with a program that isn’t supported.

The moral here is whatever you decide prepare to spend money.

SOA is not always right for every application.

There are many circumstances where it is important to note that a SOA is not the right direction; I could dedicate a few posts just on just this subject.

The main reason is simply, there is no benefit, recognise this and don’t waste anymore time.

Find the source of data

SOA gets complex when you do not a have a definitive source for a piece of key data. A good example is customer data, your organisation wouldn’t be the first or only to have customer data in more than one system, because of mergers and acquisition this is a common place scenario.

Decide on a common source and spend the time migrating all the data from other data sources into it. Or façade the data sources into one service and migrate all the UI’s and business logic of the applications to the façade, once done you can change/migrate the data source underneath to the one source. Don't be under and illusion, this will take time!

SOA takes time and you will make mistakes.

Never make your first SOA project large, always make it simple and be prepared to throw it all away.

Also always plan to have a re-engineering phase later on.

I haven't come across a SOA project that has worked first time, but think your project will break the mould.

It is imperative to keep vendor neutrality between the layers

If you get vender lock-in, you will have killed your SOA.Vendor neutrality gives you flexibility, yes it can make somethings harder but it's worth keeping to this principle.

There is no reason why you can’t have more that one platform in a layer covering the pros and con. Also if you wish to switch vendor it makes it less of a painful exercise, but the real advantage comes when you want to upgrade!

It’s always good to have more than one vendor in your SOA structure.

Take control of your own SOA governance.

Too many companies will happily sell you a SOA or build you one, but will they still be there when the money runs out, contract ends or project finishes?

Use experts to teach your staff, lets them help and guide till you are up to speed.

Always plan for the experts exit strategy from the get go.

Encourage your staff to get out there and talk.

Lots about SOA can be learnt from talking to other companies that have tried it, encourage your staff to go to community and vendor events, read blog and article and have a big book budget!


Anyway drop a comment if there is any thing you wish me to expand on.

Posted on Tuesday, October 3, 2006 7:59 PM Main , Technical Architecture | Back to top

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