Getting Started with SOA


I'm at the InfoWorld SOA Executive Forum today. I'm moderating a panel on SOA governance and speaking on digital identity. The conference is completely sold out.

I was part of a team that wrote a feature for InfoWorld last week on the SOA lifecycle. I've watched (and helped) InfoWorld move into this space over the last few years and I think they've done more than just report on what's happening: they're part of the conversation and clarifying concepts in helpful ways.

Bruce Graham, BEA
Bruce Graham, BEA
(click to enlarge)

Tony Bishop gave the opening keynote. He's the SVP for Corporate Investment Banking Technology group at Wachovia. Tony gave 16 points that you need to follow for implementing SOA. I didn't catch them all, but I'll try to remember to point to his slides when they come up. The presentation was quite detailed--maybe too much so for a keynote. You could have filled a workshop with the ideas he brought up. He got a question that asked for a differentiation between components and services. I think the best explanation of that is from Roger Sessions. Sessions also clearly distinguishes objects.

Bruce Graham from BEA spoke on "accelerating your SOA implementation." He points to a survey of how companies are using SOA. Last year 52% said they hadn't started using SOA. Now only 19% say that. 41% of companies will spend more than $500K this year. The mean average is $2.1 million.

SOA Initiation Patterns
SOA Initiation Patterns
(click to enlarge)

Some of Graham's talk is essentially the same content as Bret Dixon's talk from March. I particularly liked the SOA initiation patterns discussion. This is a good place to start when you're looking at your own organization and trying to figure out what approach to take. There's quite a few examples in this talk about how organization at different points in this graph start their SOA implementations. This would be a good talk to listen to again. Unfortunately, it's not one of the one's we have on IT Conversations. Here are PowerPoint slides from an earlier talk on this topic. I'll try to link to the slides from this version when they're available since they're quite different.

Graham talks about six dimensions of an SOA project:

  1. Business strategy and process
  2. Architecture
  3. Building blocks
  4. Projects and applications
  5. Organizations and governance
  6. Cost and benefits

On governance, Graham recommends that you don't make the answer more difficult than it has to be. CIOs should directly engage with O&G questions as early as possible. Don't give it to a subteam. The CIO should act as a "benevolent dictator." Focus on aligning your SOA objectives, expected benefits, and guiding principles. Clarify roles and responsibilities.

Graham gives this advice for companies just getting started:

  • Know your SOA entry point and the associated strategy
  • Plan and manage holistically
  • Simplify