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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Service Oriented Architecture

Grady Booch On SOA . Excerpts:

Service-oriented architectures (SOA) are on the mind of all such enterprises - and rightly so - for services do offer a mechanism for transcending the multiplatform, multilingual, multisemantic underpinnings of most enterprises, which typically have grown organically and opportunistically over the years. That being said, I need to voice the dark side of SOA, the same things I've told these and other customers.
- First, services are just a mechanism, a specific mechanism for allowing communication across standard Web protocols. As such, the best service-oriented architectures seem to come from good component-oriented architectures, meaning that the mere imposition of services does not an architecture make.

- Second, services are a useful but insufficient mechanism for interconnection among systems of systems. It's a gross simplification, but services are most applicable to large grained/low frequency interactions, and one typically needs other mechanisms for fine-grained/high frequency flows. It's also the case that many legacy - sorry, heritage - systems are not already Web-centric, and thus using a services mechanism which assumes Web-centric transport introduces an impedence mismatch.

- Third, simply defining services is only one part of establishing a unified architecture: one also needs shared semantics of messages and behavioral patterns for common synchronous and asynchronous messaging across services.

In short, SOA is just one part of establishing an enterprise architecture, and those organizations who think that imposing an SOA alone will bring order out of chaos are sadly misguided. As I've said many times before and will say again, solid software engineering practices never go out of style (crisp abstractions, clear separation of concerns, balanced distribution of responsibilties) and while SOA supports such practices, SOA is not a sufficient architectural practice.

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