Saturday, February 07, 2009

TOGAF 9 - Business-Led SOA

Shall we see SOA as a software engineering challenge or a business opportunity? TOGAF 9 makes a clear and unequivocal statement in favour of the latter, and identifies the following characteristic features of Business-Led SOA.

  • Rich domain knowledge of both horizontal, cross-cutting concerns, such as human resources (HR), finance, and procurement alongside vertical, industry-specific concerns
  • A structured, quantitative understanding of business value, costs, differentiators, and quality measures
  • Broad understanding of current capability, showing both business capability and how it is supported by IT
  • Broad understanding of the feasibility and viability of particular SOA technology-driven solutions
This is contrasted with "a technology-centric, developer-led SOA community that maintains a core focus on the similarities across industries, organizations, and products to achieve benefit".

(In other words, an emphasis on standardization, and the one-size-fits-all economics of scale characteristic of the technology-centric approach, are complemented with an emphasis on business capability within a specific business context.)

Enterprise architecture is then positioned as "a set of tools and techniques to link top-down business-led SOA to bottom-up developer-led SOA". Enterprise architecture becomes "a foundation for service-orienting an organization".

(In other words, enterprise architecture is what puts the A into SOA.)

Technology-centric SOA already makes a clear distinction between the specification of a software service (sometimes known as the service contract), and the implementation and deployment of this service. Business-led SOA applies the same principle at the business level: "Defining business services allows an organization to differentiate between business capability, the fulfilment of business capability, and the consumption of business capability".

(In other words, enterprise architecture supports service-orienting the business, not just service-orienting the applications. Service-orienting the business doesn't just involve IT reengineering, and "justifying the cost of IT reengineering against business value", but also business reengineering.)

Is this enough? Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Some commentators are complaining that the business end of TOGAF is still disappointingly thin. But I prefer to see it as a move in the right direction. And I can see some promising openings here for the work we've been doing on alternative business models ...

Footnote

Business-led but technology-centric? See my post on Jargon Orienteering.

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