Sunday, October 28, 2007

Boxing Clever

Can SOA be "boxed"?
My contribution to this discussion can be found in the latest issue of IEEE Software, special issue on Service-Centric Systems (November/December 2007, Vol. 24, No. 6). In a brief section called Point/Counterpoint (pp. 78-81), I debate the preconditions for successful SOA with Donald Ferguson of Microsoft (formerly Chief Architect of IBM Websphere).

Don was asked to put the case for tools ("Tools Drive Business-Model Development"), while I was asked to put the case for processes and practices ("Towards Organizational Maturity"). One of the matters touched upon in the debate was the possibility of encapsulating various types of relevant knowledge and know-how, and packaging these with the tool. Don's argument is certainly stronger if we assume that SOA tools come preloaded with patterns and other assets. (That's similar to the discussion between Jack and Joe.) But I maintain that tools (or whatever comes out-of-the-box), while undoubtedly useful, rank a poor second to organizational processes and practices as a prerequisite for successful SOA.

Here's Joe McKendrick's summary of the out-of-the-box argument:
"Technology is the enabler, but not the end goal. Yes, you can buy all the tools you may need in a single box. But SOA isn’t in the tools; it’s what you do with those tools."

(I agree with this completely, as long as "can" doesn't imply "should".)

1 comment:

Jack said...

But SOA isn’t in the tools; it’s what you do with those tools."

In some cases and to some extend ERP vendors did it already for you with the tools. That is what I meant with SOA out-of-the-box.

-Jack (httpL://