Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Jason Bloomberg, Mark Leake

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

What Level Is Your SOA?

Choose for what you need - and maybe a little better

As I work with corporate America, as well as the government, I'm finding that services-oriented architectures (SOAs) are like snowflakes - no two are alike. I'm also finding that everyone has their own definition of SOA, and I've seen everything from messaging systems to portals called an SOA.

So, who's right? I'm not sure I'm ready to declare somebody's architecture as non-SOA just yet;, however, there are some patterns that are emerging in terms of types of SOAs. I like to refer to these patterns as levels, since they have a tendency to move from the very primitive, or level 0, to the highly sophisticated, or level 5.

First, let me offer my definition of SOA, so we have a foundation of what is both correct and pure (tongue firmly in cheek).

In short, an SOA is a strategic framework of technology that allows all interesting systems, inside and outside of an organization, to expose and access well defined services, that may be furthermore abstracted to orchestration layers and composite applications.

Certainly not the only definition, but it is good enough for our discussion of SOA levels.

  • Level 0 SOAs are SOAs that simply send SOAP messages from system to system.
    There is little notion of true services, but instead they leverage Web services as an information integration mechanism. Hardly an SOA, but certainly a first step.

    It's also important to note that you don't need Web services to create an SOA. This is true for all levels.

  • Level 1 SOAs are SOAs that leverage everything in Level 0 but add the notion of a messaging/queuing system.
    Most ESBs are level 1 SOAs, leveraging a messaging environment that uses service interfaces, but really does not deal with true services (behavior), instead moving information between entities as messages through queues.

    While services are a part of Level 1 SOAs, it's really all about information and not about application behavior. For instance, while you do indeed invoke a service to push a message on queue and retrieve a message off a queue, it really leverages services as a well-defined interface and not accessing application functionality. Sometimes SOA architects may attempt to abstract application behavior using an ESB; if that's the case, you're moving up to level 4 (discussed below). However, doing this is typically much more trouble than it's worth because you're dealing with information- oriented integration technology that is merely attempting to deal with services/behavior? an unnatural act.

  • Level 2 SOAs are SOAs that leverage everything in Level 1, and add the element of transformation and routing.
    This means that the SOA is not only able to move information from source and target systems, leveraging service interfaces, but is also able to transform the data/schemas to account for the differences in application semantics. Moreover, by adding the element of intelligent routing, you're able to route the information based on elements such as source, content, and logical operators in the SOA.

  • Level 3 SOAs are SOAs that leverage everything in Level 2, adding a common directory service.
    The directory provides a point of discovery of processes, services, schemas, and such, allowing all those leveraging the SOA to locate and leverage assets such as services easily. Without directories, the notion of service reuse - the real reason for building an SOA - won't work. Directories are typically standards-based, including UDDI, LDAP, and sometimes more proprietary directories such as Active Directory.

  • Level 4 SOAs are SOAs that leverage everything in Level 3, adding the notion of brokering and managing true services.
    Here is where the brokering of application behavior comes into play. In other words, at this level we are not only about managing information movement, but about the discovery and leveraging of true services.

    At this level we have the ability to broker services between systems, allowing systems to both discover and leverage application behavior as if the functionality was local. This is the real goal of Web services, and the ability to share services not having to worry about platform-specific issues nor where the services are actually running.

    What's important here is that we understand that the value is in the behavior, as well as the information bound to that behavior. This level of SOA is able to provide capabilities for discovery, access, and management. Most SOAs are built with level 4 capabilities in mind, but may work up from the lower levels. If you do that, make sure you are leveraging the right technology and standards that support all levels.

  • Finally, Level 5 SOAs are SOAs that leverage everything in Level 4, adding the notion of orchestration.
    Orchestration is key, providing the architect with the ability to leverage exposed services and information flows, creating in essence a "meta-application" above the existing processes and services to solve business problems."Moreover, level 5 SOAs should support both the notion of persistence and user interactions. Persistence means that there should be some sort of data storage mechanism that's able to service all attached applications and services. The data persistence layer is exposed as a service. User interactions mean that a level 5 SOA needs to provide mechanisms allowing services to interact with users through traditional or rich client portals.

    Indeed, orchestration is really another complete layer on the stack, over and above more traditional application integration approaches we deal with at the lower levels. Thus, orchestration is the science and mechanism of managing the movement of information and the invocation of services in the correct and proper order to support the management and execution of common processes that exist in and between organizations and internal applications. Orchestration provides another layer of easily defined and centrally managed processes that exist on top of existing processes, application services, and data within any set of applications.

    The goal of this type of SOA is to define a mechanism to bind relevant processes that exist between internal and external systems in order to support the flow of information and logic between them, thus maximizing their mutual value. Moreover, we're looking to define a common, agreed-upon process that exists between many organizations and has visibility into any number of integrated systems, as well as being visible to any system that needs to leverage the common process model.

    Summary
    As services, and architectures that support them, become more of an asset within the enterprise, we need to begin to learn how to categorize the patterns of the architectures, thus the SOA levels discussion in this column. This both provides a better understanding of what is a true SOA, and allows us to pick the right level to meet the needs of our business.

  • More Stories By David Linthicum

    Dave Linthicum is Sr. VP at Cloud Technology Partners, and an internationally known cloud computing and SOA expert. He is a sought-after consultant, speaker, and blogger. In his career, Dave has formed or enhanced many of the ideas behind modern distributed computing including EAI, B2B Application Integration, and SOA, approaches and technologies in wide use today. In addition, he is the Editor-in-Chief of SYS-CON's Virtualization Journal.

    For the last 10 years, he has focused on the technology and strategies around cloud computing, including working with several cloud computing startups. His industry experience includes tenure as CTO and CEO of several successful software and cloud computing companies, and upper-level management positions in Fortune 500 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years, and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including University of Virginia and Arizona State University. He keynotes at many leading technology conferences, and has several well-read columns and blogs. Linthicum has authored 10 books, including the ground-breaking "Enterprise Application Integration" and "B2B Application Integration." You can reach him at [email protected] Or follow him on Twitter. Or view his profile on LinkedIn.

    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
    Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann and Aruna Ravichandran have been named Co-Chairs of @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley which will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is at the intersection of technology and business-optimizing tools, organizations and processes to bring measurable improvements in productivity and profitability," said Aruna Ravichandran, vice president, DevOps product and solutions marketing...
    @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
    What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...
    In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to ma...
    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...
    "When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Doug Vanderweide, an instructor at Linux Academy, discussed why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers wit...
    A common misconception about the cloud is that one size fits all. Companies expecting to run all of their operations using one cloud solution or service must realize that doing so is akin to forcing the totality of their business functionality into a straightjacket. Unlocking the full potential of the cloud means embracing the multi-cloud future where businesses use their own cloud, and/or clouds from different vendors, to support separate functions or product groups. There is no single cloud so...
    Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
    Hybrid IT is today’s reality, and while its implementation may seem daunting at times, more and more organizations are migrating to the cloud. In fact, according to SolarWinds 2017 IT Trends Index: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization 95 percent of organizations have migrated crucial applications to the cloud in the past year. As such, it’s in every IT professional’s best interest to know what to expect.
    The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
    For most organizations, the move to hybrid cloud is now a question of when, not if. Fully 82% of enterprises plan to have a hybrid cloud strategy this year, according to Infoholic Research. The worldwide hybrid cloud computing market is expected to grow about 34% annually over the next five years, reaching $241.13 billion by 2022. Companies are embracing hybrid cloud because of the many advantages it offers compared to relying on a single provider for all of their cloud needs. Hybrid offers bala...
    Containers, microservices and DevOps are all the rage lately. You can read about how great they are and how they’ll change your life and the industry everywhere. So naturally when we started a new company and were deciding how to architect our app, we went with microservices, containers and DevOps. About now you’re expecting a story of how everything went so smoothly, we’re now pushing out code ten times a day, but the reality is quite different.
    "We are a monitoring company. We work with Salesforce, BBC, and quite a few other big logos. We basically provide monitoring for them, structure for their cloud services and we fit into the DevOps world" explained David Gildeh, Co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    If you cannot explicitly articulate how investing in a new technology, changing the approach or re-engineering the business process will help you achieve your customer-centric vision of the future in direct and measurable ways, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. At Intellyx, we spend a lot of time talking to technology vendors. In our conversations, we explore emerging new technologies that are either disrupting the way enterprise organizations work or that help enable those organizations to ...
    For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
    There's a lot to gain from cloud computing, but success requires a thoughtful and enterprise focused approach. Cloud computing decouples data and information from the infrastructure on which it lies. A process that is a LOT more involved than dragging some folders from your desktop to a shared drive. Cloud computing as a mission transformation activity, not a technological one. As an organization moves from local information hosting to the cloud, one of the most important challenges is addressi...
    Companies have always been concerned that traditional enterprise software is slow and complex to install, often disrupting critical and time-sensitive operations during roll-out. With the growing need to integrate new digital technologies into the enterprise to transform business processes, this concern has become even more pressing. A 2016 Panorama Consulting Solutions study revealed that enterprise resource planning (ERP) projects took an average of 21 months to install, with 57 percent of t...
    Microservices are increasingly used in the development world as developers work to create larger, more complex applications that are better developed and managed as a combination of smaller services that work cohesively together for larger, application-wide functionality. Tools such as Service Fabric are rising to meet the need to think about and build apps using a piece-by-piece methodology that is, frankly, less mind-boggling than considering the whole of the application at once. Today, we'll ...