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The Benefits of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
An interview with Paulo Merson, MSE
Software experts are always in great demand, especially those who are also good at training others. Paulo Merson has been teaching workshops on software engineering for over a decade. We had the opportunity to talk to him during his visit to Panama, where he taught a SOA Certified Professional workshop. Why are so many people talking about SOA recently? Many IT organizations have grown in terms of the number of software solutions and technology diversity. That along with the need to integrate with other organizations and external services has created a need for an approach that can make the integration of internal and external software solutions more manageable. Today we’re past the hype about SOA. It’s now a well-established approach that can help you in those scenarios. What are the main benefits of SOA? Strictly speaking, SOA is an architectural model or pattern that has some guidelines for designing software components as services. And the term SOA has been used in different ways over the years. So, I’d rather mention the benefits of service-oriented
computing, which is an umbrella term that includes SOA. Now to the benefits. If done correctly, service-oriented computing will bring you interoperability, the ability to move across vendors, natural alignment of business and technology. The ROI comes in the long run, along with the benefit of organizational agility, which is the ability to deliver solutions quickly due to higher levels of reusability and composability. To upper management, the visible benefit of service-oriented computing is a reduction in the burden and the cost of the software solutions and the IT enterprise as a whole. How do I integrate my applications with SOA? legacy
Service-oriented computing will bring you interoperability, the ability to move across vendors, natural alignment of business and technology.
There are different approaches to connect to legacy systems. More basic ones include batch file transfers and ETL, direct database access and screen scraping. You can also have technology-specific adapters and gateways. If you follow service orientation principles, there are SOA design patterns that can be employed, such as asynchronous queuing and legacy wrapper. Then you may ask, what solution is the best one? It depends on the technology context, on designs contraints and the quality attribute requirements. An ESB is commonly associated to SOA. Tell us about this. The ESB is a special middleware software product that gives you the infrastructure to implement different alternatives for legacy integration, such as queuing and technology adapters. But ESBs can be quite useful much beyond legacy integration, for example by providing configurable routing and message transformation functionality. What are the common pitfalls of SOA? Many organizations have tried SOA and didn’t succeed, or at least didn’t achieve the expected benefits. A common problem is to invest in implementation technology and infrastructure rather than architecture. Service-orientation gives you design principles that guide the creation of an inventory of services that are reusable, interoperable, autonomous, loosely coupled, discoverable and ultimately highly composable.
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2 What other trends or technologies should we consider when deploying SOA? Service-oriented computing is an umbrella for different design principles and patterns, technologies, frameworks, and products. For example, business-process modeling paired with a BPEL server or some other form of service orchestration will be a good fit for some SOA solutions. An ESB is a kind of product that might also be a good fit. We hear about new technologies and industry standards all the time. The important thing is to read beyond the marketing and branding of “SOA support”, and understand the service-orientation principles that guide each solution and the governance requirements that are posed to the service-oriented enterprise.
What skills determine success with SOA? Technical or cultural? SOA allows for the use of many different technologies and design alternatives, so the technical challenges are significant. But I think a bigger challenge, which is related to the pitfalls we just mentioned, is to establish proper SOA governance, which includes design standards and a service-delivery process that will leverage the interaction between business experts and technology experts. Let´s say a company wants to get into SOA? Where do they start? Successful SOA adoption requires standardization considerations, organizational considerations, which include new roles and processes, governance considerations, and technical considerations about security, performance, reliability, legacy integration, and infrastructure. What´s the role of governance in a SOA initiative? We need a SOA governance system in place. There are different SOA governance models published in the literature. Service-orientation usually touches the entire IT organization or a significant portion of it. SOA is an enterprise project and requires upper management support. SOA governance will prescribe different roles, some of them are custodians of different resources created along the way.
I bet you been asked this already, but, what’s the ROI on SOA? This is the one million dollar question. Calculating the return on investment is a “holy grail” for almost all IT ideas, techniques, approaches and technologies proposed anywhere. What’s the ROI of agile development? What’s the ROI of ITIL? It’s very hard to find a quantitative answer. But for SOA, there’s plenty of empirical evidence and published case studies that allow us to say in the SOA training that one of the benefits of serviceoriented computing is “increased ROI”. Tell us about SOASchool. What is the benefit of becoming certified? In my opinion, SOASchool has the most comprehensive and well-founded educational material related to SOA. In addition to courses, there are text books, conferences, webcasts, magazine, web sites, and much more. SOASchool certifications are highly recognized in industry. It is true that the value of professional certifications in general is sometimes questioned. Years ago, I read about a study that stated certifications have a benefit more important than the tile in your resume. The major benefit comes from getting a professional to study and become up-to-date and knowledgeable about a given subject, which is something that in many cases this professional wouldn’t do on his own. So, I believe a SOASchool certification will help you to advance your career and bring value to your employer.
Paulo Merson is a SOA Certified Trainer with over 20 years of experience in software engineering. He is also a visiting scientist at the Software Engineering Institute and software architect and a well known speaker at events such as SOA and Cloud Symposium, SD Best Practices, Dr. Dobb’s Architecture & Design World, JavaOne and SATURN. Some of his latest publications are a must read for professionals in this field all over the world, and include technical books, book chapters and articles in prestigious magazines. He holds a Master of Software Engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University. Alcenit Corporation specializes in Technology and Innovation Management. Alcenit has been a champion of CMMI for years and became the first SEI Partner in Central America, being also the first Licensed Training Partner of Arcitura in Panama. Alcenit advises on strategic topics so organizations can obtain the expected value of their IT investment.
Copyright ©2013 Alcenit Corporation. All rights reserved.