A response to my prior post on Responsibility-Driven Architecture got me thinking… what is the “first principle” that Service Oriented Architecture gives us that makes it “better” than simply COM?  Certainly, the four tenets do a good job of capturing the key distinctions.

 When I see a paradigm shift, I, like others I suspect, will often turn to others to get analysis and data, hoping to work my way up to understanding.  When I first heard about SOA, I looked for the distinctions and the reasonings, and SOA became appealing to me.

But if I look at the four tenets and ask “Why bother?” the answer comes up as the following, for me: to get our designs to routinely and repeatedly reflect the goals of Responsibility Driven Architecture.

In other words, if you were to ask “Why SOA?” the answer would be: to better partition our systems along the lines of a clear interfaces.  What makes interfaces clear?  Partitioning by responsibility.

Just as the alternator in a gasoline-powered-car has one responsibility, and only one, to generate electricity, and that allows considerable simplicity in both it’s design and the maintenance of the overall system, a single part in a SOA only achieves the goal of loose coupling by sticking to a single responsibility and having limited, declared, connections to other components.

Leaves me to wonder: if I were to define RDA in terms of ‘first principles,’ what would they be?  I’ll have to think a bit…

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".

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