Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Enterprise Architecture versus SOA?

In a provocative post yesterday, David Linthicum suggested that Enterprise Architects should be fired if they don't appreciate SOA. Not surprisingly, this is resulting in a hostile response from people (Uche Ogbuji, Mark Nottingham) who are saying that it's not Enterprise Architecture that's the problem, it's SOA. Or rather the SOA vendors. Mark (who used to work for BEA) blames the Big Vendors.

I have some major concerns with the way SOA (or some watered-down version of SOA) is being implemented in large organizations, sometimes with the encouragement of vendors. But I don't think all the blame for this can be placed on the vendors. (Hey, they're vendors, what do you expect from them?)

I also have some major concerns with the way Enterprise Architecture is being implemented in some large organizations - talking endlessly about Business-IT Alignment but reduced to playing meaningless games of Framework Bingo.

In my consulting work, I'm increasingly finding that effective SOA and effective Enterprise Architecture go hand-in-hand - you probably can't do a decent roadmap or business case for one without considering the other.

I think David Linthicum raises some good points in his post, but I don't agree with his conclusion that you should fire enterprise architects who don't appreciate SOA. It is probably true that some enterprise architects don't deserve that job title - but it's not because they don't appreciate SOA but because they actually aren't very good enterprise architects in the first place.

I have generally found that good enterprise architects are eager to address the issues that matter to their organizations. This certainly doesn't entail (why should it?) an uncritical acceptance of SOA. In my earlier post on Optimism (in reply to Jeff Schneider) I said that "it is not the role of the architect to be optimistic". But it does entail striving for a flexible and joined-up and cost-effective architecture. Frankly I can't see the point of an enterprise architecture if it doesn't do any of the things on David's checklist.

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