As I’ve discussed many times, SOA is not a product.  It is an architectural style.  That said, products can help leverage and encourage SOA.  Gartner expects there to be some pretty significant growth in these products over the next few years. 

There is no silver bullet here.  When you buy a product from a vendor (including Microsoft), you are buying more than tools. You are also buying the constraints that drove the assumptions in the tools.  Those constraints are important, and usually overlooked.  kingkong-snow-globe

This is what makes it so difficult to compare the SOA offerings from different companies.  If you buy a product that assumes a particular platform, or practice, then your company will have an easier time using that product if that platform or practice are already in place.  For example, if you buy a product that assumes you manage your IT portfolio as such, but you don’t manage your IT portfolio, it will be more difficult to get value out of your purchase.

As you may discover, SOA can have a large impact on your organization, including changing your planning and funding mechanisms, or a small impact which changes your tools.  How big you can go, depends on what your business will get from it and how well you have aligned business sponsorship. 

So when you decide to move to SOA, you will inevitably have to pick some tools and products to empower your implementation.  In that process, look to insure that the vendor can tell you how to get from where YOU are to where THEY want you to be.  Is that destination where your organization wants to go?  Can you get in for a low cost?  Can you measure value?  If your choice doesn’t let you answer these questions… why pick it?

  • Buying a tool that you don’t use… that’s bad.
  • Buying a tool that forces you to make expensive changes to your process before you see value… that’s worse.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

4 thoughts on “Beware of SOA in a box”
  1. I agree a good tool usually supports a certain methodology. And we all have probably seen several cases when people would buy a tool and try to use it without understanding the methodology. Very soon the tool ends up on a shelf.

    Are there any systematic SOA methodologies out and the tools that support those methodologies? Or is this still a quite emerging discipline/approach?


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