Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Astadia CloudGPS, Jason Bloomberg, Karthick Viswanathan

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

Service-Oriented Architecture Best Practices

Meeting your goals takes a mixed effort

The concept of a service-oriented architecture is a powerful tool for simplifying enterprise integration. Following the three principles of modularity, encapsulation and loose coupling will achieve some amount of improvement for an individual service. It is insufficient to have a loose set of principles to guide enterprise architecture designs. It is also important to have "best practices" on how to build, run and manage enterprise systems. This document will cover the best practices that have been culled from Epiphany, a number of Epiphany's top customers and leading analyst firms.

Define the language of your enterprise. First and foremost, there must be a common language that your, enterprise must speak. This amounts to being able to define important entities as XML Schemas and transformations as XML style sheets. Enforcement is crucial, as well ensuring interoperability across an enterprise wide system. This is the single most important action an enterprise can take to smooth its transition to an SOA.

In one sense, this principle should not be necessary if industry standards groups could agree on basic XML document formats for simple things like names and addresses. Since this is unlikely to happen anytime soon, it is important that your organization set its own language policies now, and deal with transformation issues via XSLT later.

Establish a naming convention for your enterprise. In a SOA environment, having a document that formulates how to name Web services, service interfaces, legacy system endpoints, or any public component will help the enterprise architects, administrators, and developers provide consistent services.

Define service interfaces first, implement later. In a SOA, the interface for a Web service is more important than its actual implementation. When designing composite applications (i.e. applications composed from a cluster of web services), recognize that heterogeneity is the norm. One analyst study put the average number of hardware/software platforms in the Fortune 500 at 6. This underscores setting a baseline "language" for your organization, as heterogeneity is an unavoidable fact in any large enterprise.

In addition to having best practices around people, practices, and technology, it is also important to have "design patterns" that can be reused in order to make the design and construction of an SOA faster and easier. Just as there are design patterns for object-oriented programming, there is a group of experts who are looking at describing common enterprise workflows as a set of patterns. Led by BEA and the Middleware Company, initial work has been done to catalog a number of enterprise workflows captured as patterns for an SOA. While their efforts are in the early stage, the work appears promising.

Establish a service categorization. Services come in a number of flavors. An organization should decide on its services taxonomy. This definition will help to define development roles, as well as help to suggest a level or organizational structure. At a high level, there are only a few types of services. The Middleware Company group is attempting to pull together a set of best practices for building out a service-oriented architecture. The expert group has defined a taxonomy of services, which is a useful starting place:

  • Component services: Simple atomic services potentially acting on single enterprise resource (e.g., database, code, etc).
  • Data services: Service providing data querying, combination and transformation for multiple data sources.
  • Business services: Atomic services composed of combinations of component services and rules.
  • Workflow services: Long lived business processes coordinating other services with external interactions.
Separate rules. It is important to categorize business logic/rules, further, into "process" type business rules versus "UI" type business rules. Process-type business rules are good candidates to encompass within business services and UI-level business rules should be separated out.

Don't skimp on training. Start with a common skill set. Most organizations are new to the technologies behind SOA (like WS-I, WS-BPEL, etc.), so it is important for an IT staff to acquire the skills to understand and implement SOA on an enterprise-wide scale.

Architect a common management layer. A service-oriented architecture provides both additional opportunity and complexity for managing an operational system. Many of the infrastructure vendors like IBM and BEA provide the ability to monitor and manage Web services. It is important to implement a uniform management infrastructure for managing hardware, operating systems, applications, and Web services for maximum visibility.

Analyst firms have begun to discuss implementation issues around SOA as well. In a recent report, Forrester offers several suggestions for SOA best practices. The Forrester report offers several points for enterprises to consider:

Align services with business processes. This is important for a number of reasons. First, the service must be understood by the business users for it to be useful and successful. Second, the service should match the business process it is managing to mitigate the need to change management. Third, change management will be easier. As business processes change, determining which services need to change will be made easier.

Design decisions need to be made regarding integrating business rules within services. Consumer application-specific business rules may not have to be integrated within the producer services if there is no value in having these rules apply to other consumer applications. This also facilitates easy maintenance of services because there is less coordination with multiple consumer applications

Start with services, do Web services later. Moving to an SOA does not necessarily require Web services. Many companies have been successful building out an SOA message-oriented middleware (MOM). This includes JMS-based software as well as IBM WebSphere MQ (the former MQSeries). Applications rooted in MOM-based systems generally met the requirements of SOA: encapsulation, loose-coupling and modularity, but with the notion of messages on a queue rather than SOAP/XML messages.

Wrap packaged applications in service interfaces. This was mentioned above, but is important enough to restate. Enterprises should be wary of vendors claiming to provide a platform. Leveraging a single vendor's platform will unnecessarily tie an organization to one vendor. This is a risky strategy. It is better for enterprise information assets to speak a neutral, common language that will ensure interoperability.

Have a version resolution architecture. Web services present the ability to reuse software like never before. A Web service can be a public resource used by hundreds of applications. However, if the Web service changes the applications will have to change. This will create a maintenance nightmare. It is important to have an architecture where interfaces have a version associated with them, and a way of resolving a particular interface to a particular version. As Web service producers are changed, the consumers can be migrated slowly to the new service. This way disruption is minimized.

Conclusion
Successful enterprises know that achieving an organization's goals is a mix of best practices around people, policies, and technology. This article has attempted to illustrate that it is not sufficient to adopt SOA technologies. It is important to adopt best practices around how a group is organized and how it behaves. It is also important to adopt a set of policies that ensure smooth, visible operations and minimal effort in the face of change. This article has attempted show some of the current thinking around best practices from Epiphany, Epiphany's customers, and leading analyst firms. The nascent body of SOA best practices is still developing.

Resources

  • Some efforts in this area, like xNAL, are by no means universally accepted. See http://xml.coverpages.org/xnal.html for more details.
  • Gamma, E., et al. (1995). Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Softwar. Addison Wesley.
  • SOA Blueprints: www.middlewareresearch.com/soa-blueprints/
  • More Stories By Bill Roth

    Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.

    Comments (1) 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
    David Knox 02/10/05 11:05:08 AM EST

    This arcticle starts off right with the three bastions of SOA (standardized interfaces, separation of concerns, loose coupling), after that it falls off the edge. I was most alarmed by the notion that SOA requires 'common language'. The author's argument clearly implies that an enterprise architecture must mandate an all XML protocol. I find it difficult to believe that J2EE app servers shouldn't freely use RMI-IIOP between containers. If every application in the enterprise must have the same transport protocol it contradicts the edict of loose coupling. In the first paragraph the author states a working SOA definition, in the second the author contradicts a necessary aspect of SOA.

    @MicroservicesExpo Stories
    "We focus on SAP workloads because they are among the most powerful but somewhat challenging workloads out there to take into public cloud," explained Swen Conrad, CEO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    "As we've gone out into the public cloud we've seen that over time we may have lost a few things - we've lost control, we've given up cost to a certain extent, and then security, flexibility," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics,in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    "Peak 10 is a hybrid infrastructure provider across the nation. We are in the thick of things when it comes to hybrid IT," explained , Chief Technology Officer at Peak 10, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    "I think DevOps is now a rambunctious teenager – it’s starting to get a mind of its own, wanting to get its own things but it still needs some adult supervision," explained Thomas Hooker, VP of marketing at CollabNet, 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.
    "I will be talking about ChatOps and ChatOps as a way to solve some problems in the DevOps space," explained Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
    If you are thinking about moving applications off a mainframe and over to open systems and the cloud, consider these guidelines to prioritize what to move and what to eliminate. On the surface, mainframe architecture seems relatively simple: A centrally located computer processes data through an input/output subsystem and stores its computations in memory. At the other end of the mainframe are printers and terminals that communicate with the mainframe through protocols. For all of its apparen...
    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.
    DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st 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 no time to w...
    From manual human effort the world is slowly paving its way to a new space where most process are getting replaced with tools and systems to improve efficiency and bring down operational costs. Automation is the next big thing and low code platforms are fueling it in a significant way. The Automation era is here. We are in the fast pace of replacing manual human efforts with machines and processes. In the world of Information Technology too, we are linking disparate systems, softwares and tool...
    All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
    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,...
    DevOps sees the coming together of practices, philosophies, and tools that allow you to create services and applications very quickly. This means that you can improve on your apps and evolve them at a much faster rate than those developers who are using traditional software development processes. We’ve talked about DevOps, in general, a great deal, but today, we’re going to dig a little deeper and take a look at Java DevOps specifically.
    In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up 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. H...
    With continuous delivery (CD) almost always in the spotlight, continuous integration (CI) is often left out in the cold. Indeed, it's been in use for so long and so widely, we often take the model for granted. So what is CI and how can you make the most of it? This blog is intended to answer those questions. Before we step into examining CI, we need to look back. Software developers often work in small teams and modularity, and need to integrate their changes with the rest of the project code b...
    "Outscale was founded in 2010, is based in France, is a strategic partner to Dassault Systémes and has done quite a bit of work with divisions of Dassault," explained Jackie Funk, Digital Marketing exec at Outscale, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    From personal care products to groceries and movies on demand, cloud-based subscriptions are fulfilling the needs of consumers across an array of market sectors. Nowhere is this shift to subscription services more evident than in the technology sector. By adopting an Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) delivery model, companies are able to tailor their computing environments to shape the experiences they want for customers as well as their workforce.
    If you read a lot of business and technology publications, you might think public clouds are universally preferred over all other cloud options. To be sure, the numbers posted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure platform are nothing short of impressive. Statistics reveal that public clouds are growing faster than private clouds and analysts at IDC predict that public cloud growth will be 3 times that of private clouds by 2019.
    "At the keynote this morning we spoke about the value proposition of Nutanix, of having a DevOps culture and a mindset, and the business outcomes of achieving agility and scale, which everybody here is trying to accomplish," noted Mark Lavi, DevOps Solution Architect at Nutanix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo is an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalized support service from its globally located cloud platfor...