I wander the blogosphere on occasion looking for new articles on “selling SOA to executives” and I get the same-old story. Tell them about the benefits of composing applications.
Then pray that they care. Personally, I think that is bunk.
Briefly, before my father passed away, we entertained the idea of him moving to the Seattle area and living with me… but he had demands. He wanted to have his own apartment with room to continue creating his art (my father was a prolific artist, especially acrylic on canvas, but he loved ceramics as well). After explaining the costs of an apartment like that, we settled on the idea that we would expand my house and add an in-law apartment. So we called an architect and he came over.
And you know what? He didn’t tell me about how easy it would be to construct my house.
Nope… not once.
We talked about the size of the apartment and the zoning restrictions and other opportunities like expanding the master bedroom to extend over the new addition. We talked about design and asthetics and we looked at his portfolio of work. Not once did we discuss standard parts or methods for extending a foundation.
I trusted him to help me find a competent Contractor who would take care of that. I assumed that they would build the house out of commercially available parts (standard lumber, standard floor boards, standard electrical and plumbing fixtures, standard roofing materials). I know enough to know that the standard stuff only gets you to a point and you have to customize from there… that craftsmanship still counts, but I also know enough to buy the off-the-shelf stuff for nearly everything from floorboards to outlet covers.
I’ve decided that the best way to “Sell SOA” to the business is not to sell SOA to the business. Let’s talk about the asthetics, the features, the speed and reliability, the automation of their business processes to allow them to focus and innovate where it counts. Let’s not talk about standard parts.
When you remodel your house, the parts aren’t just parts. They are “options.” The architect had no intention of letting me pick the type of electrical wire that runs through the walls. The choice is his (and the contractor’s) to make, based on zoning standards and their professional preferences. Not mine. On the other hand, when it comes to picking the bathroom tile for the new bathroom, then I’m involved, because it is an option… part of the asthetic whole.
He was selling ‘lifestyle’ and ‘functionality,’ not walls and outlets.
The reality is that services are the parts. Detailed, messy, noisy, wildly complicated parts. I have no desire, nor intention, to make the business folks learn the details of how a part works. I do want to be able to offer them options.
The biggest challenge I can see to selling SOA is that we sell SOA. We need to sell solutions. We need that layer of abstraction on TOP of the services layer that is the abstract solution. Highlight: abstract. Like an interface definition, the abstract solution doesn’t exist… it is a description of a solution. Many different implementations are possible. In other words, the customer doesn’t buy the service. He or She buys the iSolution Interface.
Important to note: the iSolution interface is not a single thing. It is a very generic interface, like iObject. Under there, you will find hundreds of other interfaces… other abstract solutions. In our program, we’ve developed a hierarchy of these “level 2” abstract solutions, and I’m working on level 3.
This is the stuff to sell. Lifestyle, asthetics, functionality.
Let me worry about the parts.