Tuesday, January 24, 2006


The Real Problem of within many enterprises attempting to leverage SOA

I was reading Jeff Schneider blog and thought he nailed it in discussing the problems that the vast majority of enterprises face when adopting SOA. Many enterprises are attempting to leveraging existing systems vs rewriting them from scratch. While this may save money in the short-term, it will surely cause problems down the road. For those who are attempting to introduce SOA approaches and apply them to legacy architectures may have multiple problems on their hands...

SOA is a paradigm shift, folks who have traditionally worked in legacy environments more than likely have no in-depth understanding of SOA nor have any interesting in learning more. They do so because they are pessimistic by nature and believe that everything has already been done before but only under a different banner. We all know that pessimism in general can ruin projects, but when one has a pessimistic architect as a technical leader, it is pretty much doomed to fail...

It is irrational to think you can do paradigm shifts by doing more of the same. A paradigm shift requires different thinking and most importantly new approaches. That's its point. Some folks attempt to take on SOA and either totally fail or only have marginal success and resort to creating wonderful IT marketing turning effort failure into a success. Usually the consistent pattern in these shops is when enterprise architecture types set the expectation that 100% of all projects will succeed.

Falling back to something that legacy architects may be familiar with is the Rational Unified Process and how it prioritized: People, Process and Tools in that order. If an enterprise figures out how to focus on people first, they will get the notion of what the first two words in service-oriented architecture means.

A better usage of legacy architects is to focus them on the business domain while allowing those who understand the technical domains to emerge as leaders. Architects who have went through the paradigm shift sometimes gain valuable insight into the inner workings of the business application and innovate new approaches. Legacy architects usually have over time developed sufficient expertise and influence to suggest changes in business process to make them more efficient. Presenting ideas to the business customer can at times require skillful sales skills. In the business world, it is sometimes more important to be liked than be right. Of course this causes a culture clash amongst those with integrity but in being service-oriented from a mental model helps both types find a chaordic balance.

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