Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Flint Brenton, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Cameron Van Orman, Jason Bloomberg

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 nature of the technology business is forward-thinking. It focuses on the future and what’s coming next. Innovations and creativity in our world of software development strive to improve the status quo and increase customer satisfaction through speed and increased connectivity. Yet, while it's exciting to see enterprises embrace new ways of thinking and advance their processes with cutting edge technology, it rarely happens rapidly or even simultaneously across all industries.
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable? Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, will answer these questions and demonstrate techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances ...
With the rise of DevOps, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in Enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery for the business. When it comes to adopting containers in the enterprise, security is the highest adoption barrier. Is your organization ready to address the security risks with containers for your DevOps environment? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Van Tuin, Chief Technologist, NA West at Red Hat, will discuss: The top security r...
DevSecOps – a trend around transformation in process, people and technology – is about breaking down silos and waste along the software development lifecycle and using agile methodologies, automation and insights to help get apps to market faster. This leads to higher quality apps, greater trust in organizations, less organizational friction, and ultimately a five-star customer experience. These apps are the new competitive currency in this digital economy and they’re powered by data. Without ...
With the modern notion of digital transformation, enterprises are chipping away at the fundamental organizational and operational structures that have been with us since the nineteenth century or earlier. One remarkable casualty: the business process. Business processes have become so ingrained in how we envision large organizations operating and the roles people play within them that relegating them to the scrap heap is almost unimaginable, and unquestionably transformative. In the Digital ...
These days, APIs have become an integral part of the digital transformation journey for all enterprises. Every digital innovation story is connected to APIs . But have you ever pondered over to know what are the source of these APIs? Let me explain - APIs sources can be varied, internal or external, solving different purposes, but mostly categorized into the following two categories. Data lakes is a term used to represent disconnected but relevant data that are used by various business units wit...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
Most of the time there is a lot of work involved to move to the cloud, and most of that isn't really related to AWS or Azure or Google Cloud. Before we talk about public cloud vendors and DevOps tools, there are usually several technical and non-technical challenges that are connected to it and that every company needs to solve to move to the cloud. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Stefano Bellasio, CEO and founder of Cloud Academy Inc., will discuss what the tools, disciplines, and cultural...
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...
‘Trend’ is a pretty common business term, but its definition tends to vary by industry. In performance monitoring, trend, or trend shift, is a key metric that is used to indicate change. Change is inevitable. Today’s websites must frequently update and change to keep up with competition and attract new users, but such changes can have a negative impact on the user experience if not managed properly. The dynamic nature of the Internet makes it necessary to constantly monitor different metrics. O...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
Many organizations are now looking to DevOps maturity models to gauge their DevOps adoption and compare their maturity to their peers. However, as enterprise organizations rush to adopt DevOps, moving past experimentation to embrace it at scale, they are in danger of falling into the trap that they have fallen into time and time again. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends: badly.
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
Many organizations adopt DevOps to reduce cycle times and deliver software faster; some take on DevOps to drive higher quality and better end-user experience; others look to DevOps for a clearer line-of-sight to customers to drive better business impacts. In truth, these three foundations go together. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 21st Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, industry experts will discuss how leading organizations build application success from all...
The last two years has seen discussions about cloud computing evolve from the public / private / hybrid split to the reality that most enterprises will be creating a complex, multi-cloud strategy. Companies are wary of committing all of their resources to a single cloud, and instead are choosing to spread the risk – and the benefits – of cloud computing across multiple providers and internal infrastructures, as they follow their business needs. Will this approach be successful? How large is the ...
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.
"NetApp's vision is how we help organizations manage data - delivering the right data in the right place, in the right time, to the people who need it, and doing it agnostic to what the platform is," explained Josh Atwell, Developer Advocate for NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
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 ...
One of the biggest challenges with adopting a DevOps mentality is: new applications are easily adapted to cloud-native, microservice-based, or containerized architectures - they can be built for them - but old applications need complex refactoring. On the other hand, these new technologies can require relearning or adapting new, oftentimes more complex, methodologies and tools to be ready for production. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, Solutions Marketi...