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The Open Group has recently released a draft version of a SOA ontology.

The Open Group has always had a mandate to help boundaryless information flow and the ontology (specification of conceptualisation) for SOA is a demonstration of just that. The ontology is written in the Web Ontology Language (OWL) defined by the World-Wide Web
Consortium and this for me is what makes it a hurdle to learn as it's not an intuitive meta-language but then is any? Perhaps if it wasn't for the graphical tools we would get stuck.

Open Group explains the benefits as:

1. It defines the concepts, terminology and semantics of SOA in both business and technical
terms, in order to:

  • Create a foundation for further work in domain-specific areas,
  • Enable communications between business and technical people,
  • Enhance the understanding of SOA concepts in the business and technical
    communities, and
  • Provide a means to state problems and opportunities clearly and unambiguously
    to promote mutual understanding.

2. It potentially contributes to model-driven SOA implementation. The ontology is designed for use by:

  • Business people, to give them a deeper understanding of SOA, and its use in the
  • Architects, as metadata for architectural artifacts; and
  • Architecture methodologists, as a component of SOA metamodels.

The full draft can be found here:

After reviewing the draft I am left cold. My first opinion is that business will find this difficult to adopt in the same way they found UML difficult. Why because they are both coding languages, you may as well stick in a 'Print' command. The gap between logical design and executing code is a large as ever.

I still hold the belief that business and IT can only really align on the logical level. Business doesn't want to know about detail they will want to be abstracted away from that, this is actually a key SOA deliverable, just a very unspoken one, hence why REST services appeal. I believe that IT cannot handle business logic detail on it's own, so alignment between business and IT will come when hybrid groups formed of technologically minded users and business oriented IT exist to make, maintain and specialise in services that support their business area based on IT standards and underlying IT technologies and services.

Why I believe these groups need to exist is because business and IT can never align because they have very different goals and therefore different headings. Align the destination and the groups will align, not possible with business and IT as they are very different by reson d’etre. You can't marry creatures of different species. You can however translate and interface.

These groups do actually exist all over successful organisations they just lack boundary, form and recognition perhaps even by the very people that make them up. E.g. So you code in a Spreadsheet? So do you report to the Sales-Manager or Dev Team Leader?

Back to the Ontology, I think the Open Group need to ask a fundamental question, how does business see and understand logic? I really do think we need to revisit DSL's.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 9:51 PM SOA , Main , Technical Architecture | Back to top

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