Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Dalibor Siroky, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, John Katrick, Liz McMillan

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
    The nature of test environments is inherently temporary—you set up an environment, run through an automated test suite, and then tear down the environment. If you can reduce the cycle time for this process down to hours or minutes, then you may be able to cut your test environment budgets considerably. The impact of cloud adoption on test environments is a valuable advancement in both cost savings and agility. The on-demand model takes advantage of public cloud APIs requiring only payment for t...
    "Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
    Many enterprise and government IT organizations are realizing the benefits of cloud computing by extending IT delivery and management processes across private and public cloud services. But they are often challenged with balancing the need for centralized cloud governance without stifling user-driven innovation. This strategy requires an approach that fundamentally reshapes how IT is delivered today, shifting the focus from infrastructure to services aggregation, and mixing and matching the bes...
    "CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of DevOps. Now we have a complete set of tool sets in order to enable customers to go all the way from planning to development to testing down to release into the operations," explained Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President of Global Marketing and Strategy at CA Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    While we understand Agile as a means to accelerate innovation, manage uncertainty and cope with ambiguity, many are inclined to think that it conflicts with the objectives of traditional engineering projects, such as building a highway, skyscraper or power plant. These are plan-driven and predictive projects that seek to avoid any uncertainty. This type of thinking, however, is short-sighted. Agile approaches are valuable in controlling uncertainty because they constrain the complexity that ste...
    Cavirin Systems has just announced C2, a SaaS offering designed to bring continuous security assessment and remediation to hybrid environments, containers, and data centers. Cavirin C2 is deployed within Amazon Web Services (AWS) and features a flexible licensing model for easy scalability and clear pay-as-you-go pricing. Although native to AWS, it also supports assessment and remediation of virtual or container instances within Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or on-premise. By dr...
    "This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
    It’s “time to move on from DevOps and continuous delivery.” This was the provocative title of a recent article in ZDNet, in which Kelsey Hightower, staff developer advocate at Google Cloud Platform, suggested that “software shops should have put these concepts into action years ago.” Reading articles like this or listening to talks at most DevOps conferences might make you think that we’re entering a post-DevOps world. But vast numbers of organizations still struggle to start and drive transfo...
    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...
    "We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    The cloud revolution in enterprises has very clearly crossed the phase of proof-of-concepts into a truly mainstream adoption. One of most popular enterprise-wide initiatives currently going on are “cloud migration” programs of some kind or another. Finding business value for these programs is not hard to fathom – they include hyperelasticity in infrastructure consumption, subscription based models, and agility derived from rapid speed of deployment of applications. These factors will continue to...
    While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
    Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
    Let's do a visualization exercise. Imagine it's December 31, 2018, and you're ringing in the New Year with your friends and family. You think back on everything that you accomplished in the last year: your company's revenue is through the roof thanks to the success of your product, and you were promoted to Lead Developer. 2019 is poised to be an even bigger year for your company because you have the tools and insight to scale as quickly as demand requires. You're a happy human, and it's not just...
    DevOps teams have more on their plate than ever. As infrastructure needs grow, so does the time required to ensure that everything's running smoothly. This makes automation crucial - especially in the server and network monitoring world. Server monitoring tools can save teams time by automating server management and providing real-time performance updates. As budgets reset for the New Year, there is no better time to implement a new server monitoring tool (or re-evaluate your current solution)....
    We just came off of a review of a product that handles both containers and virtual machines in the same interface. Under the covers, implementation of containers defaults to LXC, though recently Docker support was added. When reading online, or searching for information, increasingly we see “Container Management” products listed as competitors to Docker, when in reality things like Rocket, LXC/LXD, and Virtualization are Dockers competitors. After doing some looking around, we have decided tha...
    "Opsani helps the enterprise adopt containers, help them move their infrastructure into this modern world of DevOps, accelerate the delivery of new features into production, and really get them going on the container path," explained Ross Schibler, CEO of Opsani, and Peter Nickolov, CTO of Opsani, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    The benefits of automation are well documented; it increases productivity, cuts cost and minimizes errors. It eliminates repetitive manual tasks, freeing us up to be more innovative. By that logic, surely, we should automate everything possible, right? So, is attempting to automate everything a sensible - even feasible - goal? In a word: no. Consider this your short guide as to what to automate and what not to automate.
    identify the sources of event storms and performance anomalies will require automated, real-time root-cause analysis. I think Enterprise Management Associates said it well: “The data and metrics collected at instrumentation points across the application ecosystem are essential to performance monitoring and root cause analysis. However, analytics capable of transforming data and metrics into an application-focused report or dashboards are what separates actual application monitoring from relat...