Microservices Expo Authors: Stackify Blog, Aruna Ravichandran, Dalibor Siroky, Kevin Jackson, PagerDuty Blog

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
How is DevOps going within your organization? If you need some help measuring just how well it is going, we have prepared a list of some key DevOps metrics to track. These metrics can help you understand how your team is doing over time. The word DevOps means different things to different people. Some say it a culture and every vendor in the industry claims that their tools help with DevOps. Depending on how you define DevOps, some of these metrics may matter more or less to you and your team.
For many of us laboring in the fields of digital transformation, 2017 was a year of high-intensity work and high-reward achievement. So we’re looking forward to a little breather over the end-of-year holiday season. But we’re going to have to get right back on the Continuous Delivery bullet train in 2018. Markets move too fast and customer expectations elevate too precipitously for businesses to rest on their laurels. Here’s a DevOps “to-do list” for 2018 that should be priorities for anyone w...
If testing environments are constantly unavailable and affected by outages, release timelines will be affected. You can use three metrics to measure stability events for specific environments and plan around events that will affect your critical path to release.
In a recent post, titled “10 Surprising Facts About Cloud Computing and What It Really Is”, Zac Johnson highlighted some interesting facts about cloud computing in the SMB marketplace: Cloud Computing is up to 40 times more cost-effective for an SMB, compared to running its own IT system. 94% of SMBs have experienced security benefits in the cloud that they didn’t have with their on-premises service
DevOps failure is a touchy subject with some, because DevOps is typically perceived as a way to avoid failure. As a result, when you fail in a DevOps practice, the situation can seem almost hopeless. However, just as a fail-fast business approach, or the “fail and adjust sooner” methodology of Agile often proves, DevOps failures are actually a step in the right direction. They’re the first step toward learning from failures and turning your DevOps practice into one that will lead you toward even...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
While walking around the office I happened upon a relatively new employee dragging emails from his inbox into folders. I asked why and was told, “I’m just answering emails and getting stuff off my desk.” An empty inbox may be emotionally satisfying to look at, but in practice, you should never do it. Here’s why. I recently wrote a piece arguing that from a mathematical perspective, Messy Desks Are Perfectly Optimized. While it validated the genius of my friends with messy desks, it also gener...
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 next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
The enterprise data storage marketplace is poised to become a battlefield. No longer the quiet backwater of cloud computing services, the focus of this global transition is now going from compute to storage. An overview of recent storage market history is needed to understand why this transition is important. Before 2007 and the birth of the cloud computing market we are witnessing today, the on-premise model hosted in large local data centers dominated enterprise storage. Key marketplace play...
The cloud revolution in enterprises has very clearly crossed the phase of proof-of-concepts into a truly mainstream adoption. One of most popular enterprise-wide initiatives currently going on are “cloud migration” programs of some kind or another. Finding business value for these programs is not hard to fathom – they include hyperelasticity in infrastructure consumption, subscription based models, and agility derived from rapid speed of deployment of applications. These factors will continue to...
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 ...
Following a tradition dating back to 2002 at ZapThink and continuing at Intellyx since 2014, it’s time for Intellyx’s annual predictions for the coming year. If you’re a long-time fan, you know we have a twist to the typical annual prediction post: we actually critique our predictions from the previous year. To make things even more interesting, Charlie and I switch off, judging the other’s predictions. And now that he’s been with Intellyx for more than a year, this Cortex represents my first ...
"Grape Up leverages Cloud Native technologies and helps companies build software using microservices, and work the DevOps agile way. We've been doing digital innovation for the last 12 years," explained Daniel Heckman, of Grape Up in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Toyota Production System, a world-renowned production system is based on the "complete elimination of all waste". The "Toyota Way", grounded on continuous improvement dates to the 1860s. The methodology is widely proven to be successful yet there are still industries within and tangential to manufacturing struggling to adopt its core principles: Jidoka: a process should stop when an issue is identified prevents releasing defective products
We seem to run this cycle with every new technology that comes along. A good idea with practical applications is born, then both marketers and over-excited users start to declare it is the solution for all or our problems. Compliments of Gartner, we know it generally as “The Hype Cycle”, but each iteration is a little different. 2018’s flavor will be serverless computing, and by 2018, I mean starting now, but going most of next year, you’ll be sick of it. We are already seeing people write such...
Defining the term ‘monitoring’ is a difficult task considering the performance space has evolved significantly over the years. Lately, there has been a shift in the monitoring world, sparking a healthy debate regarding the definition and purpose of monitoring, through which a new term has emerged: observability. Some of that debate can be found in blogs by Charity Majors and Cindy Sridharan.
It’s “time to move on from DevOps and continuous delivery.” This was the provocative title of a recent article in ZDNet, in which Kelsey Hightower, staff developer advocate at Google Cloud Platform, suggested that “software shops should have put these concepts into action years ago.” Reading articles like this or listening to talks at most DevOps conferences might make you think that we’re entering a post-DevOps world. But vast numbers of organizations still struggle to start and drive transfo...
Let's do a visualization exercise. Imagine it's December 31, 2018, and you're ringing in the New Year with your friends and family. You think back on everything that you accomplished in the last year: your company's revenue is through the roof thanks to the success of your product, and you were promoted to Lead Developer. 2019 is poised to be an even bigger year for your company because you have the tools and insight to scale as quickly as demand requires. You're a happy human, and it's not just...
"Opsani helps the enterprise adopt containers, help them move their infrastructure into this modern world of DevOps, accelerate the delivery of new features into production, and really get them going on the container path," explained Ross Schibler, CEO of Opsani, and Peter Nickolov, CTO of Opsani, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.