Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: LeanTaaS Blog, Derek Weeks, Don MacVittie, Karthick Viswanathan, Gopala Krishna Behara

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

The Well-Spoken SOA - How Well Is Your SOA Running?

Understanding the elements of an SOA in the context of management, security, governance, and the power of words

The American comedian and actor Steven Wright once said, "It doesn't make a difference what temperature a room is, it's always room temperature." Words are wonderful that way. They can give you a little blast of pleasure when used cleverly, but like everything else they are subject to fashion. For example, I was speaking at a technical conference recently when I overheard a person whom I know, who is well-respected in this field, say something along these lines: "You have to know how well your SOA is running. Knowing the overall health and responsiveness of your SOA is very important. You've got to get a handle on your governance." The goal was laudable, but the wording was off target.

I've heard the word governance fall from people's lips with increasing frequency recently, which is a good thing. Lately though, it seems to me that there has been an unfortunate blurring of the usage and definition of the word governance with another important word that also ought to be on the tip of the tongues of most people involved with SOA today, and that word is management. Monitoring and controlling the overall health and responsiveness of your SOA is largely a function of management, not governance.

The person whom I mentioned above probably knows this, at least in his better moments, but fashion is a powerful force. Trust me on this. You may consider yourself an up-to-date person both technically and in your style of language and dress, but I assure you, fashions change. Many years from now, photos of you wearing cloths that were once considered the height of fashion may cause your very own children to turn on you. There is no defense against the younger generation when they sense vulnerability any more than you can convince a shark in the midst of a feeding frenzy to try tofu. Speaking from a theoretical perspective, naturally, my advice is to be prepared for the likes of "Gee, Dad, how could you have possibly gone out in public dressed that way?"

A good response is to flash your progeny a peace sign and beat a hasty retreat.

Similarly, in order to spare our dear readers the potential embarrassment of explaining to future generations of telepathic IT people what an SOA was and why we even cared about it, it seems prudent to review and solidify our own architectural understanding. Let us consider the functional elements of an SOA starting with those elements responsible for the actual creation and execution of services. Later, we will focus on other essential elements such as management, governance, and security, and we'll examine their role in the SOA and their relationship with the rest of the IT infrastructure upon which the SOA depends, as well.

Creation and Execution of Services
Many well-known types of enterprise software such as application servers, integration servers, and large business systems have evolved to provide the essential elements needed to create and run services in an SOA. Most often these are Web services based on protocols such as SOAP, but can include other types of services based on technologies such as CORBA or Java RMI as well. These newly evolved entities are often called service platforms. Service platforms minimally provide a service runtime environment for the execution of services, but are often bundled with tools that provide many other capabilities. Most commonly, they include development tools that provide the ability to develop and deploy services to that same runtime environment. Therefore, it is no surprise that most application servers and their associated development environments have been transformed and remarketed as service platforms.

SOA is also about breaking down the barriers between previously isolated legacy application silos and reusing these capabilities in new, more flexible ways. Therefore, both integration servers and messaging middleware vendors, which often have more specialized mechanisms in order to work with legacy systems, have joined the service platform game as well. In fact, a wide range of diverse platforms and technologies are transforming themselves into services platforms. For example, many application vendors such as SAP are also offering service platforms that provide the added benefit of leveraging the business application itself.

Many of these service platforms feature embellished tools that are helpful in designing and creating a modern SOA, including support for many Web services standards. These platforms are usually capable of composing simple Web services into more complex composite ones, and frequently provide orchestration engines so you can more easily create high-level business processes out of these services. They are designed to aid reusability by making it easy find new services via discovery mechanisms (typically UDDI registries), another element of SOA, which they often include as part of a complete service platform package.

Despite their architectural, technical, and functional diversity, one thing that many service platforms have in common these days is that they increasingly follow the current fashion of calling themselves an Enterprise Service Bus or ESB (a previously fashionable word was "fabric," but that has now fallen into disfavor). In my opinion, this was a smart move from the marketing perspective because it creates the impression of an indivisible and essential component. After all, what computer can operate without its bus?

However, unlike a computer bus, elements of an SOA related to the service-oriented applications themselves such as development, runtime, orchestration, transformation, guaranteed message delivery, or registry can also be provided by more specialized stand-alone products, depending on the needs of the organization. As these capabilities become increasingly mature and commoditized (a challenge that J2EE application servers started to face a few years ago), many organizations have already found that they have multiple ESBs and point-products with overlapping capabilities.

Service Platform Limitations
For many organizations, the success of the SOA may ultimately be more dependent upon other SOA elements, such as operations management and security management. As different types of service platforms proliferate, the management and security challenges become more difficult. Why can't service platforms easily provide these capabilities in an SOA? They often promote themselves as "all you ever need to build an SOA." In fact many service platforms do provide limited management and security capabilities. However many service platforms are quite rightly focused on maximizing the benefits of their own technology stack, rather than leveraging and increasing the value and utility of all service platforms that participate in an SOA. Indeed, the service platform vendor may have limited experience or incentive to leverage the management and security capabilities of any platform but its own.

More Stories By Paul Lipton

Paul Lipton is VP of Industry Standards and Open Source at CA Technologies. He coordinates CA Technologies’ strategy and participation in those areas while also functioning as part of CA Labs. He is co-chair of the OASIS TOSCA Technical Committee, and also serves on the Board of Directors of the open source Eclipse Foundation, as well as both the Object Management Group and the Distributed Management Task Force in addition to other significant technical and leadership roles in many leading industry organizations such as the OASIS, W3C and INCITS.

Lipton is also an approved US delegate to the international standards organization ISO, as a member of the subcommittee focused on international cloud standards. He is a founding member of the CA Council for Technical Excellence where he leads a team focused on emerging technologies, a Java Champion, and Microsoft MVP.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Paul Lipton 04/18/06 02:32:28 PM EDT

No, UDDI is not fated for the dustbin of history, but neither is it the only way to share or distribute policy information. The notion that UDDI must the the center of the universe and holder of all policy is equally absurd. It simply won't happen for practical and historical reasons. Policy will be distributed all over the place; in legacy, identity management, and operations management policy repositories, to name a few. Each of these repositories is optimized to support certain types of policy best at runtime (where it counts). We had best learn to live with that and plan for it.

SOA Web Services Journal 09/01/05 10:23:38 AM EDT

The Well-Spoken SOA Web Services - How Well Is Your SOA Running? The American comedian and actor Steven Wright once said, 'It doesn't make a difference what temperature a room is, it's always room temperature.' Words are wonderful that way. They can give you a little blast of pleasure when used cleverly, but like everything else they are subject to fashion. For example, I was speaking at a technical conference recently when I overheard a person whom I know, who is well-respected in this field, say something along these lines: 'You have to know how well your SOA is running. Knowing the overall health and responsiveness of your SOA is very important. You've got to get a handle on your governance.' The goal was laudable, but the wording was off target.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
The notion of improving operational efficiency is conspicuously absent from the healthcare debate - neither Obamacare nor the newly proposed GOP plan discusses the impact that a step-function improvement in efficiency could have on access to healthcare (through more capacity), quality of healthcare services (through reduced wait times for patients) or cost (through better utilization of scarce, expensive assets).
Some people are directors, managers, and administrators. Others are disrupters. Eddie Webb (@edwardawebb) is an IT Disrupter for Software Development Platforms at Liberty Mutual and was a presenter at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. His talk, Organically DevOps: Building Quality and Security into the Software Supply Chain at Liberty Mutual, looked at Liberty Mutual's transformation to Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and DevOps. For a large, heavily regulated industry, this task...
Our work, both with clients and with tools, has lead us to wonder how it is that organizations are handling compliance issues in the cloud. The big cloud vendors offer compliance for their infrastructure, but the shared responsibility model requires that you take certain steps to meet compliance requirements. Which lead us to start poking around a little more. We wanted to get a picture of what was available, and how it was being used. There is a lot of fluidity in this space, as in all things c...
Gone are the days when application development was the daunting task of the highly skilled developers backed with strong IT skills, low code application development has democratized app development and empowered a new generation of citizen developers. There was a time when app development was in the domain of people with complex coding and technical skills. We called these people by various names like programmers, coders, techies, and they usually worked in a world oblivious of the everyday pri...
The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Microservices being modular these are faster to change and enables an evolutionary architecture where systems can change, as the business needs change. Microservices can scale elastically and by being service oriented can enable APIs natively. Microservices also reduce implementation and release cycle time and enables continuous delivery. This paper provides a logical overview of the Mi...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
Some journey to cloud on a mission, others, a deadline. Change management is useful when migrating to public, private or hybrid cloud environments in either case. For most, stakeholder engagement peaks during the planning and post migration phases of a project. Legacy engagements are fairly direct: projects follow a linear progression of activities (the “waterfall” approach) – change managers and application coders work from the same functional and technical requirements. Enablement and develo...
Admiral Calcote - also known as Lee Calcote (@lcalcote) or the Ginger Geek to his friends - gave a presentation entitled Characterizing and Contrasting Container Orchestrators at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. Okay, he isn't really an admiral - nor does anyone call him that - but he used the title admiral to describe what container orchestrators do, relating it to an admiral directing a fleet of container ships. You could also say that they are like the conductor of an orchestra, directing...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
Gaining visibility in today’s sprawling cloud infrastructure is complex and laborious, involving drilling down into tools offered by various cloud services providers. Enterprise IT organizations need smarter and effective tools at their disposal in order to address this pertinent problem. Gaining a 360 - degree view of the cloud costs requires collection and analysis of the cost data across all cloud infrastructures used inside an enterprise.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone in...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
For DevOps teams, the concepts behind service-oriented architecture (SOA) are nothing new. A style of software design initially made popular in the 1990s, SOA was an alternative to a monolithic application; essentially a collection of coarse-grained components that communicated with each other. Communication would involve either simple data passing or two or more services coordinating some activity. SOA served as a valid approach to solving many architectural problems faced by businesses, as app...
Many IT organizations have come to learn that leveraging cloud infrastructure is not just unavoidable, it’s one of the most effective paths for IT organizations to become more responsive to business needs. Yet with the cloud comes new challenges, including minimizing downtime, decreasing the cost of operations, and preventing employee burnout to name a few. As companies migrate their processes and procedures to their new reality of a cloud-based infrastructure, an incident management solution...
Cloud Governance means many things to many people. Heck, just the word cloud means different things depending on who you are talking to. While definitions can vary, controlling access to cloud resources is invariably a central piece of any governance program. Enterprise cloud computing has transformed IT. Cloud computing decreases time-to-market, improves agility by allowing businesses to adapt quickly to changing market demands, and, ultimately, drives down costs.
Recent survey done across top 500 fortune companies shows almost 70% of the CIO have either heard about IAC from their infrastructure head or they are on their way to implement IAC. Yet if you look under the hood while some level of automation has been done, most of the infrastructure is still managed in much tradition/legacy way. So, what is Infrastructure as Code? how do you determine if your IT infrastructure is truly automated?
Every few years, a disruptive force comes along that prompts us to reframe our understanding of what something means, or how it works. For years, the notion of what a computer is and how you make one went pretty much unchallenged. Then virtualization came along, followed by cloud computing, and most recently containers. Suddenly the old rules no longer seemed to apply, or at least they didn’t always apply. These disruptors made us reconsider our IT worldview.