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Many of us did it, made one New Year Resolutions to many at the Millennium and didn’t managed to succeed in any of them. I tried to give up smoking, losing a bit of weight, drinking less beer, save up to buy a house and learning to drive. A lot of change there, to much infact, so unsurprisingly I failed. A common story.

8 years later, all those things on the list are (more or less) achieved and how I did that was by concentrating on fixing one thing at a time. Again unsurprisingly, psychologists have been giving us this advice for sometime. In the UK one of our major high-street brands, Boots, turned it into a successful marketing campaign. So why in business should this truism be any different? It isn’t, day in day out processes and projects breaking down complex tasks into smaller manageable chunks.

The SOA concept allows this to happen as layers and services are separated by discrete interfaces that are abstracted and/or facades, so why try and implement all the parts of SOA all at once. To much change happening at once.

It does make sense to create a SOA in parts, however this statement is caveated, there is a risk that an organisation may only then implement parts and not realise the benefits of completing the SOA stack. However if they are happy and they realise benefits then this is perhaps this is still all-good. No point on trying to aim for the text-book answer if your organisation isn’t text-book. Honestly, can’t answer this one for you, so the answer is be-smart.

This isn't a compromise, to me I see this as common sense. Trying to force a sea-change on a business isn't going to be easy a step by step approach will have more chance of successful change.

When things take time it's going to be easy to lose sight of the goals, I think that this will be inevitable unless there is an active Enterprise Architecture function to pass SOA strategic goals on to and ensure they stay alive from one budget year to the next, after all that's what it's there for.

So how does an Enterprise Architecture do that? Enterprise Architects (if they haven’t worked it our yet) plan for the future, well that very topic is going to be the subject of a future post!

There has always been a debate about which part of SOA do you do first? I’ve always thought that create a Governance framework and Service Management hand-in-hand with a change to development methodology, process and departmental changes as well as change in technology is the ideal starting point … but alot to takeon in one go, however I do hear the ‘chicken and egg’ debate of service management structure and standards first before writing production service so they don’t have to be re-written. Yes that would be great but many organisation *need* to find out the reason it’s done this way round, usually they won’t accept they have to do it until they have experience the pain first hand. Sadly the ‘So what if another company has learnt lessons so we don’t need to, that’s a different company, so we are going to be better?!’ mind-set is the norm, so just like a young child they learn that a pin is sharp and Coco is hot no matter how many times they are told. So if you really must run before you can walk consider the Data and Connectivity Services first as simple abstraction and interoperability can demonstrate real initial value. However business rules will be all over the place still and you won’t be able to govern, manage or standardise your services but I can guarantee that will all get learnt when the needs arise just need to experience a sufficient level of pain first.

Vendor support for the ‘Change one thing’ approach differs from vendor to vendor. Many have great difficulty in the concept of start real small and growing by adding penalties (or what feels like them) for not buying big upfront. When starting small and growing could introduce a lot more organisations to SOA so the vendor gets a steady stream on purchases over a few years which will take them up to the version upgrade if your vendor account manager/ess is lucky. So it is in Vendors interests to have a entry-level SOA offering, and the right price is free as well which is a great way to get vendor lock-in, start with a database or development environment that is fully feature and free, even Microsoft have been doing this for years, infact they may have even been the first.

Anyway, I believe that taking it one step at a time is the very best approach as this will ultimately manage complexity and easier to manage expectations, get funding and keeping it simple. It will however take longer but success takes time just like a fine food or wine, SOA isn't a Pot-Noodle!



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Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2008 3:31 PM SOA , Main | Back to top

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