Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Sematext Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Apache

@CloudExpo: Article

The Rebirth of SOA on the Wings of SaaS and Cloud Computing

An analysis of the health of SOA as a mainstream Software Engineering Paradigm

Service Oriented Architecture was hailed as the next major leap ahead in the ICT industry and was predicted by many to be as big a leap forward as that achieved with Object-Oriented software design patterns. For example, in 2006, Joseph Bih introduced SOA in a research article as an innovative new way to conduct e-business[1]. While much published and promoted in the marketplace, SOA adoption has been the subject of significant controversy, not least of which is the publication of a landmark article by now Gartner Fellow Anne Thomas Manes in January 2009 in which SOA was declared "dead". This publication examines the health of SOA as a relevant paradigm in the ICT industry three years after some market opinion leaders declared SOA dead.

Anne Thomas Manes from The Burton Group (now part of Gartner and with Ms Manes a Gartner Fellow) published a landmark article as long ago as 5 January 2009 proclaiming that SOA is dead, citing economic downturn as well as focus on appropriate SOA supporting technologies as opposed to architectural approach reinvention as the key reasons for purported failure.

"Once thought to be the savior of IT, SOA instead turned into a great failed experiment-at least for most organizations. SOA was supposed to reduce costs and increase agility on a massive scale. Except in rare situations, SOA has failed to deliver its promised benefits. After investing millions, IT systems are no better than before. In many organizations, things are worse: costs are higher, projects take longer, and systems are more fragile than ever. The people holding the purse strings have had enough. With the tight budgets of 2009, most organizations have cut funding for their SOA initiatives." - http://apsblog.burtongroup.com/2009/01/soa-is-dead-long-live-services.html

Understanding the meaning of SOA
SOA is a natural evolution of client-server programming. The major difference between traditional client-server programming and SOA is that the server-side processing in a SOA environment is governed by business processes. This has the benefit (and promise) of bringing service delivery for any business closer to business analysts and therefore a common understanding across a broader spectrum of business personnel about the technology used to support business services. If your organisation adopts SOA internally with all services under your control, then SOA is simply defined as client-server where server side business logic is determined by configurable business processes. At its true core SOA means less coding and more business process configuration (in other words Business Process Management) and governance that is entrenched in the way systems are designed.

OASIS Definition of SOA
According to the SOA-RM specification, SOA is a paradigm for organizing and utilizing distributed capabilities that may be under the control of different ownership domains. It provides a uniform means to offer, discover, interact with and use capabilities to produce desired effects consistent with measurable preconditions and expectations. The SOA-RM specification bases its definition of SOA around the concept of "needs and capabilities", where SOA provides a mechanism for matching needs of service consumers with capabilities provided by service providers.

The Open Group Definition of SOA
Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an architectural style that supports service-orientation. Service-orientation is a way of thinking in terms of services and service-based development and the outcomes of services.

A service:

  • Is a logical representation of a repeatable business activity that has a specified outcome (e.g., check customer credit, provide weather data, consolidate drilling reports);
  • Is self-contained;
  • May be composed of other services;
  • Is a "black box" to consumers of the service.

The Technology and Architecture Paradox
SOA is, by definition, an architectural paradigm and therefore SOA business adopters are buying into a new way of designing their IT systems to support their business objectives. While it is an architectural paradigm shift, effective SOA adoption also requires the use of new technology platforms to support SOA. The fact that SOA adoption requires new technology platform adoption to support SOA was pounced on by various technology vendors that reinvented existing Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and Middleware Platforms and punted these platforms as SOA-enabling platforms and SOA adoption soon became a new selling job in the ICT industry without proper disclosure of the internal IT architectural paradigm shift that was needed for effective SOA adoption.

Bottoms-up versus Top-down SOA
As expected, with the advent of any next evolutionary step, thriving software empires will naturally leverage their existing market dominance to promote their products to fulfil the technology needs to ensure that businesses keep abreast with emerging ICT technology trends. As a result, many large enterprises adopted a top-down SOA approach after acquiring licenses for new purported SOA killer applications and frameworks. SOA is however an IT enterprise reorganisation journey and most certainly not a product or a few quantified projects. Prior to acquiring software licenses to support a SOA initiative, any business needs to reorganise their IT approach. In our opinion at globetom, SOA adoption must take place using a bottoms-up approach. SOA is about gradually transforming your present IT assets into a Service Repository asset. With this approach, your assets gradually become your service repository and its underlying business processes that may leverage other finer-grained or atomic business services.

It is our view that the disillusionment that culminated in statements that SOA is dead originated from large enterprises that wrongfully believed SOA to be the silver bullet that will magically rectify highly fragmented and broken IT infrastructures with a major top-down approach. Some of these projects may have originated without the organisation even having adopted an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) strategy.

Delivering on the agility promise
As online commerce (Business-to-business and Business to Consumer) starts becoming a key business strategy of almost any business today, agility and elasticity of electronic services are becoming key business imperatives for such organisations. Years ago, prior to the advent of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and middleware frameworks, business had a few controlled service delivery channels that were tightly coupled to point systems that were responsible for transaction fulfilment. With the advent of enterprise middleware and the web, companies were increasingly able to reach a wider market and, at the same time, with proper middleware adoption, abstract service delivery channels from their underlying supporting back-end system technologies (an architectural need referred to as Horizontal Systems Integration).

True SOA adoption delivers agility to the enterprise when adopting service exposure with implementation as configurable business processes. If organisations equip their IT enterprises with tools that facilitate integration with legacy systems by exposing point solution functions as services and then build business processes using Business Process Management (BPM) tools. The agility gains are delivered in three dimensions:

  • Loose Coupling Agility Gain: Your service delivery channels are provided with a bouquet of services that can be consumed from any access channel. Equivalent functionality is guaranteed over all access channels as the same service implementations are consumed across all channels.
  • Configured Business Process Agility Gains: Business processes are easier to change than traditional code. While your business leverages its existing service repository assets, business processes can be evolved rapidly to meet changing business needs;
  • Back-end point solution abstraction and reduced vendor lock-in: Services or tasks that provide access to specific functions offered by specific point solutions in your IT organisation become the asset and not the actual point system. SOA therefore crystallises the real business use of specific point solutions. This also means that your organisations business processes use the services and only indirectly the point solutions or products. SOA-centric enterprises therefore gain the benefit that the use of specific point solutions become tactical as these systems can be more readily replaced provided that the services are retained when adopting a new technology. For example, a legacy point system may perhaps be readily replaced with an equivalent public cloud offering and system integration with the cloud service vendor.

Why SOA is not dead
Empirical research results

Figure 1 - Annual SOA-related patents issued

The software world is continuously being reshaped by hype cycles followed by incremental enhancements in the way software is built to meet business needs. If we filter through this hype and look at real measures of the relevance of SOA, you will find a totally different picture. Using Google patent search analytics, the number of SOA-related patents issued since 2000 was obtained and this is depicted in Figure 1. The first patents were issued in 2005 and a sharp increase in SOA patents is observed from 2010 and with a total of 882 patents relating to SOA or of which SOA at least forms a component were issued in 2011. So, looking beyond hype and "opinion pieces", significant research and development has been extended during the past decade with early adopters probably embarking in Research and Development projects early in the first decade of the millennium. This empirical analysis provides a more reliable measure of the perceived value of SOA by the broad ICT innovation community.

At the same time, a rough empirical indication of the commercial relevance of SOA is obtained by looking at the annualised growth of search hits for the phrase "Service Oriented Architecture" as depicted in Figure 2. It is evident that, from 2004, a steady increase in sites publishing SOA-related material was observed with a sharp increase observed in 2011.

Figure 2 - Annualized Google search hits for "Service Oriented Architecture" compared to other mainstream ICT terms

Education Perspective
When researching the pervasiveness of Service Oriented Architecture (or sometimes referred to in the academic communities as Service Oriented Computing - SOC), it is evident that SOA is alive and well as a paradigm promoted by Schools of Computing and Information Science. Arizona State University researchers published their findings on the viability of making SOA education part of High School education curriculums[2]. Their research concluded that SOA education is feasible at high school level. Also importantly, the article introduces SOC as a major computing paradigm as outlined in the rough chronology below:

Figure 3 - Rough timeline of the evolution of major Computing Paradigms dominating Computer Science Education

The University of Queensland presents a full semester course in Service Oriented Architecture.

Carnegie Mellon University also offers courses in SOA.

A search for "Service Oriented Architecture" University Course yielded approximately 800,000 results. It is therefore evident that significant investment in formal SOA education has been made by the academic community in recognition of SOA as a mainstream computing paradigm.

Common Sense Perspective
Businesses are fuelled by business processes, i.e. the process capital that defines the unique and differentiating way in which a business conducts day to day activities. Software and systems architectures that reach out to bring technology closer to business people that understand their process capital but not necessarily ICT can gain a better understanding of the ICT systems that support their business processes. SOA delivers on this promise as Business Process Management (BPM) is central to successful SOA adoption. In a SOA-centric enterprise, IT personnel are able to talk business processes to business people. This common understanding of business processes from both technology and business driver perspectives will fuel mass adoption of SOA as a next software engineering paradigm by delivering better business and IT alignment.

SOA and the concepts of Agility and Reuse
While platform and framework technology investments are almost always made on the back of perceived benefits such as increased reuse and agility gains, these benefits are always difficult to measure and quantify. At the same time common sense dictates that, with a rich Business Process Management (BPM) technology as an underpinning foundation of SOA, business should be able to adapt quicker to changing market circumstances by evolving business processes or to develop new ones. A better common understanding between business decision makers and IT technologists of the technology support for business processes also results in improved agility.

SOA, Cloud Computing and Software as a Service as indivisible terms
Whereas perhaps present mainstream adoption of cloud services is in the Infrastructure and Storage as a Service space, IT departments will increasingly rely on delivering business processes and services for internal consumers within an organisation. Common sense dictates that once SOA adoption has been achieved, the same principles apply to start offering business processes and services (Process as a Service) in the public cloud.

SOA and the Software as a Service (SaaS) Stack
SOA is about the development of ICT technology solutions as a collection of consumable services in a service asset repositories with real-world and well-understood effects. This therefore means that services should be conceptualised in the Xaas (Anything as a Service) stack.

Figure 4 - The XaaS Stack

Let's conceptualise the SaaS stack as a solution stack that can be used by SaaS adopters at any layer. As depicted in Figure 4, each layer represents an element of SaaS (Infrastructure, Storage, Database, Information, Process, Application, Integration, Security, Management/Governance and Testing). Each layer also represents usable services to business.

The true value of SOA is found in the exposure of Business Processes as a Service (Process as a Service layer) in which consumers access services of which the implementation is governed by well-defined business processes.

Towards the Dynamic Enterprise with SOA
In a SOA-centric IT organisation, the XaaS stack is utilised as depicted on the right. While XaaS vendors offer services at different levels in the stack, globetom is focusing on one of the key goals of SOA - delivering services to consumers using Process as a Service. This means that business processes are developed using BPM and advertised as services. These services could be internal to your organisation for consumption by internal customers or could easily branch out to be offered in the public cloud. Using integration with ESB-based internal consumption to access internal XaaS service layers, e.g. Database services, internal IT assets are orchestrated to deliver business process based services. At the same time a SOA-centric IT organisation can extend Integration seamlessly to consume partner services using mainstream consumption interfaces such as Web Service consumption.

The SOA paradigm can therefore be used as an application development style for internal application development to deliver services to internal consumers only. Extending service visibility and consumer access to the private cloud (perhaps for trading partner consumption) or over to the public cloud for mass consumer use becomes a natural extension of visibility and reach of services only and not a re-engineering exercise.

Key Business Benefits of SOA
According to the Open Group[3], the key benefits of SOA adoption are as follows:

SOA Benefit

Benefit Description

Reducing Cost

Through providing the opportunity to consolidate redundant application functionality and decouple functionality from obsolete and increasingly costly applications while leveraging existing investments.

Agility

Structure business solutions based on a set of business and IT services in such a way as to facilitate the rapid restructuring and reconfiguration of the business processes and solutions that consume them.

Increasing Competitive Advantage

Provide the opportunity to enter into new markets and leverage existing business capabilities in new and innovative ways using a set of loosely-coupled IT services. Potentially increase market share and business value by offering new and better business services.

Time-to-Market

Deliver business-aligned solutions faster by allowing the business to decide on the key drivers of a solution and allowing IT to rapidly support and implement that direction.

Consolidation

Integrate across silo'ed solutions and organizations, reduce the physical number of systems, and enable consolidation of platforms under a program of -graceful transition‖ from legacy spaghetti dependencies to a more organized and integrated set of coexisting systems.

Alignment

SOA enables organizations to better align IT to business goals, enabling the business to associate IT with capabilities that an organization wants to achieve in alignment with its strategic plan, leading to both sustained agility and re-use overtime.

 

The benefits can be further categorised as depicted in the diagram below by classifying benefits of SOA adoption in terms of IT, Business and shared benefits:

Conclusion
SOA adoption will be fuelled by massive cloud service adoption where organisation's CIOs will have to respond to disruptive market forces by integration with cloud service vendors to deliver new services. This can be coined as the "consumer agility challenge". In order to meet this challenge, SOA will be needed to use Business Process Management (BPM) and rapid systems integration capabilities to meet this demand.

At the same time businesses wanting to leverage a world-wide customer audience with online services in business-to-business and business-to-consumer arrangements will need the tools and internal IT process capital to rapidly build and deliver new services and to monetise these services in the cloud. Without SOA adoption this will not be possible as IT departments will be left with traditional software engineering challenges and perhaps spaghetti integration of service access channels with back-end applications. This can be coined as the "service provider agility challenge".

These challenges can definitely be overcome with a sound SOA adoption strategy and the paradigm shift that SOA adoption brings about with the main shift being to think about ICT technology delivery in the form of tangible business processes and services.


[1] SERVICE ORIENTED ARCHITECTURE (SOA) A NEW PARADIGM TO IMPLEMENT DYNAMIC E-BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, August 2006, Joseph Bih, Source:  http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1159403

[2] An Introductory Course on Service-Oriented Computing for High Schools, W.T. Tsai, Yinong Chen, Calvin Cheng, Xin, Sun, (School of Computing and Informatics), Gary Bitter, Mary White (College of Education), Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA, Journal of Information Technology Education, Volume 7, 2008

[3] The Open Group, SOA Reference Architecture, ISBN: 1-937218-01-0, Document Number: C119, Published by The Open Group, November 2011.

More Stories By Philip Stander

Possessing over 22 years of active ICT experience, mainly in the Telecommunications Industry Sector, but also in other verticals, Philip Stander has a deep-routed passion for the ICT Industry and, in particular, to create local innovation in South Africa. Philip continues to be actively involved in ICT Technology Strategy and Architectural Design of large-scale systems, but also possesses 13 years of business management experience at the Executive Level. Philip was a co-founder of globetom in 2002 and is also a major shareholder in the business.

Philip holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Pretoria and an MS in Chemistry obtained Cum Laude in 1989 and specialized in Computer Models for the kinetics of High Temperature chemical reactions. Philip is the Managing Director of globetom (www.globetom.co.za), a company specializing in Software Engineering and an avid adopter of SOA, SaaS and Cloud Computing.

Comments (0)

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.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes how...
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Phil Hombledal, Solution Architect at CollabNet, discussed how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, contrasted how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He showed how the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He also demoed building immutable pipelines in the cloud ...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Monitoring of Docker environments is challenging. Why? Because each container typically runs a single process, has its own environment, utilizes virtual networks, or has various methods of managing storage. Traditional monitoring solutions take metrics from each server and applications they run. These servers and applications running on them are typically very static, with very long uptimes. Docker deployments are different: a set of containers may run many applications, all sharing the resource...
Join Impiger for their featured webinar: ‘Cloud Computing: A Roadmap to Modern Software Delivery’ on November 10, 2016, at 12:00 pm CST. Very few companies have not experienced some impact to their IT delivery due to the evolution of cloud computing. This webinar is not about deciding whether you should entertain moving some or all of your IT to the cloud, but rather, a detailed look under the hood to help IT professionals understand how cloud adoption has evolved and what trends will impact th...
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his session at @DevOpsSummit 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, showed how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that enables everyone fro...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Application transformation and DevOps practices are two sides of the same coin. Enterprises that want to capture value faster, need to deliver value faster – time value of money principle. To do that enterprises need to build cloud-native apps as microservices by empowering teams to build, ship, and run in production. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Neil Gehani, senior product manager at HPE, discussed what every business should plan for how to structure their teams to delive...
Rapid innovation, changing business landscapes, and new IT demands force businesses to make changes quickly. In the eyes of many, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery. In this presentation, attendees learned about the: The transformation of IT to a DevOps, microservices, and container-based architecture What are containers and how DevOps practices can operate in a container-based environment A demonstration of how ...
As we enter the final week before the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in Santa Clara, CA, it's time for me to reflect on six big topics that will be important during the show. Hybrid Cloud This general-purpose term seems to provide a comfort zone for many enterprise IT managers. It sounds reassuring to be able to work with one of the major public-cloud providers like AWS or Microsoft Azure while still maintaining an on-site presence.
Much of the value of DevOps comes from a (renewed) focus on measurement, sharing, and continuous feedback loops. In increasingly complex DevOps workflows and environments, and especially in larger, regulated, or more crystallized organizations, these core concepts become even more critical. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, showed how, by focusing on 'metrics that matter,' you can provide objective, transparent, and meaningful f...
Logs are continuous digital records of events generated by all components of your software stack – and they’re everywhere – your networks, servers, applications, containers and cloud infrastructure just to name a few. The data logs provide are like an X-ray for your IT infrastructure. Without logs, this lack of visibility creates operational challenges for managing modern applications that drive today’s digital businesses.