Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: TJ Randall, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, AppDynamics Blog

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

SOA Web Services Journal Editorial — The SOA Dichotomy

As editor, I review a great many proposals for articles. A good portion of them deal with SOA

As editor, I review a great many proposals for articles. A good portion of them deal with SOA, which is to be expected. When I review them, I'm reminded that there are two very different views of SOA, which in my opinion are both equally true. I call this the SOA Dichotomy, because these views seemingly contradict one another.

One of the views is that SOA makes things easier for the enterprise. Certainly this view has a great deal of merit and validity. Fully realized a service-oriented architecture allows an organization to fully leverage their investment in the real intellectual property of software - the service that it provides - without closely coupling that service to a single application. It's hard to overstate the impact this can make; it's truly a transformation of the way IT provides information services to the enterprise. Applications can now be assembled, and business processes composed from services and altered rapidly in response to changing business conditions. The workplace can be transformed - workers no longer need to be dependent upon a series of applications to do their work. Instead they can have a single composite application that meets all of their needs without ever having to leave to transfer to another application. Anyone who's ever been on hold with a call-center representative while they said, "Can you hold for a second, that's in a different application," knows how valuable this can be. Call centers know it as well - they know to the penny just how much a single second's delay costs them. Even before an enterprise completes its transformation to a fully deployed SOA environment, the benefits of interoperability and increased agility grow dramatically with every application that is decomposed into services in an effect similar to the very familiar Network Effect. The more services deployed, the more valuable they become. Usually, this is attributed to the fact that SOA makes things simpler, easier to do.

But the other view is the familiar devil-in-the-details argument. While not exactly contrarian, there is also a group who insist that SOA introduces increased complexity and requires greater attention to details. It's hard to argue with this when you try to create composite services and need to introduce concepts like security and transactionality to organizations that never consciously had to consider them, because they were always embedded in the application and were dictated by whatever the application vendor or in-house developers decided was the best approach. SOA requires an increased awareness on the part of the IT organization, and greater responsibility from the business side with respect to understanding the full impact of their decisions. Not that that's a bad thing, because this increased self-awareness helps a business to understand itself and adapt to changing conditions. SOA has value, but it's not as easy as it sounds at first.

How do we resolve these different views on SOA, or do we even need to? This is where the dichotomy comes into play - both views are correct. What's more, not only are they both correct, but they are both necessary. The key understanding is that SOA is a business paradigm shift, not a technology one. The true goal of an SOA is to make it easier to affect business changes and make business decisions. From that perspective the ability to work as a service distinct from an application provides strategic value. The ability to create composite services and manage them from a business perspective is a competitive advantage in today's marketplace. In tomorrow's, it will be a requirement.

That doesn't mean that a business shift makes things easier on IT. Nor does SOA. IT knows full well that while a single vendor system often has its issues, dealing with a federated heterogeneous computing environment often is more least-common denominator than best of breed. With multiple standards bodies and numerous standards and versions, the SOA landscape is cluttered and complex, and requires skilled practitioners to successfully navigate the muddy waters of a service environment. They also know it's a better place to be than the one they are leaving, which had the same problems, but no solutions, even if the solution in this case increases the complexity of their jobs.

And that's the dichotomy of SOA. It is both easier and harder, more complex and simpler. It's all a matter of perspective.

More Stories By Sean Rhody

Sean Rhody is the founding-editor (1999) and editor-in-chief of SOA World Magazine. He is a respected industry expert on SOA and Web Services and a consultant with a leading consulting services company. Most recently, Sean served as the tech chair of SOA World Conference & Expo 2007 East.

Comments (3)

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.


Microservices Articles
At its core DevOps is all about collaboration. The lines of communication must be opened and it takes some effort to ensure that they stay that way. It’s easy to pay lip service to trends and talk about implementing new methodologies, but without action, real benefits cannot be realized. Success requires planning, advocates empowered to effect change, and, of course, the right tooling. To bring about a cultural shift it’s important to share challenges. In simple terms, ensuring that everyone k...
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, answered these questions and demonstrated techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances and co...
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...
Skeuomorphism usually means retaining existing design cues in something new that doesn’t actually need them. However, the concept of skeuomorphism can be thought of as relating more broadly to applying existing patterns to new technologies that, in fact, cry out for new approaches. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gordon Haff, Senior Cloud Strategy Marketing and Evangelism Manager at Red Hat, discussed why containers should be paired with new architectural practices such as microservices rathe...
With the rise of Docker, Kubernetes, and other container technologies, the growth of microservices has skyrocketed among dev teams looking to innovate on a faster release cycle. This has enabled teams to finally realize their DevOps goals to ship and iterate quickly in a continuous delivery model. Why containers are growing in popularity is no surprise — they’re extremely easy to spin up or down, but come with an unforeseen issue. However, without the right foresight, DevOps and IT teams may lo...
Kubernetes is a new and revolutionary open-sourced system for managing containers across multiple hosts in a cluster. Ansible is a simple IT automation tool for just about any requirement for reproducible environments. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Patrick Galbraith, a principal engineer at HPE, will discuss how to build a fully functional Kubernetes cluster on a number of virtual machines or bare-metal hosts. Also included will be a brief demonstration of running a Galer...
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...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, will discuss how to use Kubernetes to setup a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace....
"There is a huge interest in Kubernetes. People are now starting to use Kubernetes and implement it," stated Sebastian Scheele, co-founder of Loodse, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
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...