Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Extending SOA

It has been quite a while ... lots of things have happened that have stopped me from writing ... but today reviewing my posts I thought about something important:

SOA only looks after ONE aspect of a business solution.

And it is not that this aspect is not important: a "service oriented" design will enhance all aspects of a business solution, "architecture" ... well this word is so misused it is difficult to find it within this context.

If using an analogy, I.T. business solutions were construction, the 'end-to-end' solution (software, hardware, costs of operations) would be THE CONSTRUCTION -. So you wouldn't call a plumber a "PIPING ARCHITECT" nor you would call an electrician an "ELECTRICAL ARCHITECT" (what about a "PLASTERING ARCHITECT?") ... your plumbing would be done by a DESIGNER that understand how the PIPING DESIGN fits in your overall ARCHITECTURE.

And the same with SOA - I have seen in plenty of situations how misunderstandings from 'Service Orientated Architects' can cause havoc in an organisation - thinking only of conceptual without any context into real building blocks for a solution (typical examples are proxying, security, synchronous vs asynchronous and pure design vs real life compromises), what happens ? The business doesn't perceive SOA as an enabler - because the P.R. people ('architects') understand only one aspect of what 'enabling' really means.

So what would be an 'extended' or 'expanded' SOA - one that considers ALL services (think about utility computing?): networking is a service, virtualisation is a service, processing power is a service, operating system is a service, application servers are a service, business logic is a service ... at the top of all this, you have your 'Service Oriented Design' which are expressed in a language that the business can understand (or could closely understand, like BPEL?).

This would obviously be a more compelling 'SOA' proposition to non-technical people ...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More interesting stuff on SOA

See "5 Things to Consider Before you start your SOA Project" by Dave Linthicum, makes a lot of sense and compliments what the thoughts i have related to Robin Harris' one:

  1. Consider the people. Most SOA projects die due to lack of talent, not lack of need or resources. Make sure you have the right people on the job, and they are trained properly. As Ron and I discussed on the Podcast this week, the SOA talent shortage is hurting this emerging area of technology.
  2. Consider the Buy-in. Most SOAs only live with approval and support from the top. Thus, projects that don't have sponsors in the right places are doomed, typically due to politics, not technical failure. SOA is a huge change in the way you approach IT, and this change requires resources and support. If you don't have them, don't try SOA.
  3. Consider your own needs. Most SOA implementers have tendency to dash out there and select technology before understanding the problems they are looking to solve. Your needs, for your enterprise, are unique and require solutions that are customized for your issues. One size does not all…SOA is something you do, not something you buy.
  4. Consider the approach. You can't iterate your way to a successful SOA, and you need a good definition of the project steps before beginning your own SOA project. Typically this means discovering metadata, services, processes, etc., and then defining your own SOA that's meets your needs.
  5. Consider the business case. While most people think SOA is always a fit, in some cases it won't have the impact required to justify the cost. Thus, you need to stop and think about the business cases at some point, and this will help you establish creditability with the sponsors, as well as shine a profitable light on the project when asking for resources.

SOA Management Misconceptions

Interesting article published by Actional that lists the top 10 misconceptions. Particularly:

  • Perception: a multitude of services comprises an architecture.
  • Reality: services built as part of an SOA initiative need to be managed, governed, and secured or else the result is scattered and poorly integrated services working against each other.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

SOA - Stir Oats & Acknowledge

It has been a while, but I have been busy expanding my photography collection (which can be seen following this link), so I have been away from the computer most of the Easter week. But it is good - refreshing ! - gives me good perspective to analyse Robin Harris's article on SOA and why is it dead from inception.

At first, I found it a bit strange to start an article about SOA referring to ILM, that is until I saw where is that Robin Harris' expertise lies: he is in charge of ZdNet's storage sections.

So I remember ILM - and I am still waiting to see who has the money to implement it - multi-tiered storage is still very expensive to implement (for the average enterprise at least), and it solves a problem (ever heard of the reasons for SoX compliance for traceability and accountability or the case of the email lost by Intel): you keep relevant data for your business AWAY from your service delivery platform - until it is required and then move back again to where it needs to be processed. And yes, you can claim that applications could be developed to take the life cycle of information into consideration - but that would make them more complex to implement, so rather than increase the complexity in the software layer, let's implement information life cycle as a different aspect in a different dimension (storage handles it on behalf of the applications).

The demand side of the equation
But enough of ILM, he talks about SOA. So if we start from the beginning - if the enterprise is not developing software, it means that it requires no change - hence it doesnt'need SOA. But problem is, most enterprises have delivered solutions with timescales, mostly poorly designed, with budget constraints (see "Why projects fail"), projects have been failing since before SOA and CORBA - and shamefully most will continue failing after SOA and CORBA (See the "CHAOS Report" from 1994 by the Standish Group). Failures are not only the ones listed above, it is the fact that solutions are thought tactically and developed tactically, when they should be thought strategically and developed tactically.

No way to show a return
SOA is all about evolution - and decoupling design from implementation (remember - "highly cohesive, loosely coupled"), you don't pay for SOA 'upfront' ... you pay for the technology - the same way you pay for a database - not for the data models!!!! OOP failed at the big scale because the granularity is too fine, each department had it's own agenda and schedule - it is like blaming Java or C for failures because enterprises use a mixture of not only languages, but operating systems, repositories, methodologies & IDE tools.
Assessment: you will show as much return on a SOA effort as you can show on any new project - if the project lacks business case, SOA lacks business case for your organization.

SOA increases execution variability
Once a service has been developed it is possible to get a average response times under different loads - the implementation of the service is the same as an API in C++, EJB in Java or stored procedure inside a database - if the design gives room for non-deterministic behaviour, you will get it, disregarding the fact that it COULD be implemented in a highly deterministic way (obvious room for some peaks under different circumstances during different scenarios).
Assessment: if your software executes with high variability - it will do disregarding of SOA, it is a problem in your design and/or implementation, don't go blaming the technology.

“They make you feel cool. And hey. I met you. You are not cool.” Almost Famous
Obvious, the usual enterprise IT is not - see the case of customer relationship management - everyone thought they were unique, needing to treat customers in a unique, bespoke way - increased costs of development, lacked standardization, created highly customised pieces of software - a new release came and ... you guessed ! all the software had to be thrown as it wasn't portable due to the bespoke, unique customisations. But as a matter of fact, what is so different in the insurance market ? 90 to 95 percent should be the same standard business processes (see in telecommunications eTOM, NGOSS, etc.) ... the fact is that if you create a pattern, your software becomes commodity ... THAT IS WHAT IS COOL - making your software behave like bricks for the organisation.
Assessment: I can't save this one, lacks fundamentals - iPods and SOA are unrelated, period.

The Storage Bits take
Here the point of SOA is hit, only if briefly - you can estimate more accurately the development of a business enabling service (i.e. of the type "createSubscriber" that non technical people will understand and can trace through their use cases). Once you have elaborated on the business components that this service touch, you can give a cost assessment ("LOB dollars") - but one advantage of the decoupling is that once you have created (if you know how) a service with a version, all your applications depending of that specific service and specific version can continue being operational when new versions come along, you can do this in any technology (i.e. CORBA), but truth is that the platform agnostic web services are the ones that give you a method that really achieves this flexibility.
Assessment: As I said, touches the point of SOA, only if briefly.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hobby ...

Just have been posting some photos on my flickr account, go and have a look,

Monday, March 19, 2007

Google on the Groove

Very interesting article, but there are plenty of conditions that have changed between the pre-Microsoft era (and their subsequent 'golden period' of win95-win2000) to what Google faces today, before the Internet took off it was easier to have "control" over your peers and partners - today's everything is so connected that your worst business nightmare might be incubating around the corner, or around the clock - and the fact that it is a so connected world not only enables faster rate of change, also enables to have stealth mode developments whilst bigger companies have to continue with the traditional publicity.

It is conspicuous the reference 'What can Google do to make its growth strategy fit better into a long term Googley development "groove"?' ... is Ballmer referring to Ray Ozzie's GROOVE ? Maybe in the 21st century, Microsoft 'grooves' there :)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

And the toy of the moment is ...

The delicious Sony vaio VGN-UX (1XN in the UK):

I've been using it for a week and my only complain so far is the fact that in extremely light conditions, you will get a headache if you need to do some work (I've been using it from the hotel room at night and with dim lights it is great fun!).

Obviously to write some serious document, nothing beats the external keyboard - but even with my 17" laptop, i find after 30 minutes my wrists are aching, so the external keyboard is necessary then as well !