Friday, August 26, 2005

Theory and Practice

Eric Newcomer (Iona) rightly argues that SOA theory must be grounded in experience. "Real projects, meeting real business requirements every day, are the kinds of things that will make SOAs and ESBs real, and provide the foundations for the real definitions once the hype settles down."

Eric mentions two well-known examples: Credit Suisse and Deutsche Post. A recent book Enterprise SOA by Dirk Slama, Karl Banke & Dirk Krafzig, discusses four detailed examples: Deutsche Post, Winterthur (Insurance), Credit Suisse. and Intelligent Finance.

But I don't think these examples are interesting/complex enough to stretch SOA to its full potential.

. In order to demonstrate the potential of SOA, you need examples that are reasonably large (not just three boxes joined together) and reasonably complex (with significant transformations and variations, not just "straight-through processing").
. Most of the published examples of SOA are small and simple, and invite easy dismissal. "Why do I need a load of new technology to do this? I could perfectly well build this using my existing software development platform."

I am currently working on the hypothesis that the most interesting applications of SOA are going to be found towards the right of the following chart.

Simple InteroperabilityModerate Interoperability
Complex Interoperability
Financial Services
Retail
SupplyChain Logistics (Basic)
Travel
Automotive
eGovernment
SupplyChain Logistics (Advanced)
Telecoms
Aerospace & Defence
Consumer Electronics
Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

This is not to say that there aren't any interesting or complex requirements in the financial sector - just that I haven't seen any yet.

One of the implications of increasing complexity is that it places additional challenges on the analysis and design process. (That's why we've been advocating a new approach for business modelling / requirements modelling.)

I have recently reviewed Pharmaceuticals (May 2005) and Automotive (July 2005) for the CBDI Forum. Please contact me if you want to discuss these sectors in more detail. And I am very keen to review other sectors - please contact me if you are able to provide input or insight.

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