Welcome!

Eclipse Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, David H Deans, JP Morgenthal

Related Topics: Eclipse, Microservices Expo, @CloudExpo

Eclipse: Blog Feed Post

The Busy Executive’s SOA Reference Guide

SOA is an architectural approach designed to identify and delineate business functional boundaries

SOA Track at Cloud Expo

Based on feedback from my last blog entry, "The Busy Executive's Quick Cloud Computing Reference Guide" the consensus was that people found it very helpful as a means of gaining quick understanding of what Cloud Computing is without getting mired in heaps of technology jargon and hype. So, I decided that SOA needed something very similar. After all, there's so much confusion and misunderstanding of SOA in the market right now.

Let's start with a basic understanding of a service. There are lots of things that you can call services, which is where many of the problems arise for SOA. I believe that the use of the word service in context of "Service Oriented Architecture" connotes a particular meaning that filters out most of non-applicable definitions of services. To further illustrate this meaning, I will discuss services in the context of software services so as to clarify the differences between SOA and not-SOA.

First, SOA is an architectural approach designed to identify and delineate business functional boundaries within a particular domain. A domain can be a single organizational unit or an entire industry. Regardless of the domain, if there are interactions within the domain, then there is most likely more than one unique business functions used to complete those interactions.

Many times, and more often with larger domains, there is more than one way to accomplish a particular task or objective. When a domain is required to support multiple paths to a singular end, it has been identified that the redundancy has an associated cost. Removing that redundancy results in efficiencies and cost savings. Very simply, SOA is the initiative designed around identifying the domain goal, marking the necessary business functions boundaries required to reach that goal, consolidating these business functions so that there is no redundancy and then orchestrating the process to reach the goal against the resulting set of business functions. The identified business functions are your services. Note, without these business functions you cannot complete your mission and achieve your task.

Most people agree on the following regarding desirable attributes of a service. We use them to do work for us that we don't want to do, we want them to be consistent and reliable, we want to pay a fair price to use them and we don't want to own them, and we don't expect to still be responsible for part of the job after hiring the service. If you hired a landscape service for your house that was supposed to prune your shrubs and you still had to go out on the weekends and clip the hedges, chances are you'd fire that service provider.

All the "chatter" in the media and on the Internet would have you believe SOA is very complex and requires expensive software and expensive resources when all we're doing is looking at a particular domain and figuring out how we can chop it up into a group of services that work together. For example, a landscape service and a mulching service have particularly good synergy, would you agree? These are two distinct services, but they have what we call a loosely-coupled relationship. That is, they work together for the duration of a task and then go their separate ways.

Granted, the task of looking at a domain and breaking it down into a set of services is a strategic skill that requires an experienced practitioner, but formulating the boundaries and putting the governance around those boundaries in place can be done by current management.

Now that we have these critical elements defined, let's compare three different topics of software that have all been associated or labeled SOA. Of the three, only one is truly SOA. These three topics are: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), component-based software development and real SOA.

Why Isn't Software-as-a-Service a Service? To answer this, let's return to our agreed upon attributes of a service. SaaS meets one criteria we defined for a service—we want to pay a fair price to use them and we don't want to own them. However, most SaaS is just rented software. You're still responsible for integrating your data with the SaaS application after you rent it. You're still responsible for configuration of the forms and workflows after you rent it. For me, SaaS fails to meet the other key attributes of a service.

When many technologists and IT specialists discuss SOA, what they most often really mean is component-based software development. Many people in the IT industry have used the label SOA to describe a way to build software systems. This is possible, if the software represents critical business functions as we will explore shortly in the discussion of real SOA. However, in these conversations you will also hear things like SOA platforms and utility services. These are sure-fire indicators that the discussion has degraded into software design methodology and has left the realm of SOA.

Here's why there's no such thing as a "utility" service and it's just a software component. If the business itself would be less scalable or cease operation because the service is not available, then you have a service. If the mulching service doesn't show up when the landscaper is there, the landscaper cannot complete their task.  Whereas, the utility service concept is a technological artifact of a software or solution design. The software providing the business service could exist without the existence of the utility service. The resulting solution may not be as modular of a design and, perhaps, not offer the service provider, the preferred level of agility and flexibility, but the service consumer would be no worse off than if you decided not to build a utility service, but instead, developed that business logic directly in to the software itself.

The last topic is SOA and real services that are comprised of software. The best way to describe this is to look at a couple examples of services that I have developed over the years.

The Alert Service – This is a software-based service that was used in data center management to notify personnel that a problem had occurred. A user or another piece of software could create an alert and it would send the notification via a number of mediums, such as pager, fax, phone, email and printed ticket. This software took care of the entire task, didn't have to be built for each individual usage and delivered the one and only one way to perform the task goal.

Zero Bond Calculator Service – This is a software-based service that provided various zero-coupon traders with a consistent means of quoting a zero coupon price. The service happened to be accessible via Excel, but could have been offered via phone or other mediums if necessary. The trader provided the inputs and the calculator service provided the pricing. It consolidated the various approaches to pricing used by each different trader, thus minimizing the overhead of the trading desk. Again, it took care of the entire task, didn't have to be built for each individual usage and delivered the one and only one way to perform the task goal.

In each of the aforementioned examples, the software represents a business function that was implemented using software because it was easily automated and reduced the need for human labor. However, because it was implemented in software, does not, in and of itself, make these services. It's the role they represent. These services allowed the business to reduce complexity, consolidate around one way of achieving a goal and do so in a way that was agile and flexible. Moreover, while they are not dependent upon one another to provide value to the business, one could easily see how they could work together synergistically to ensure high-availability of the zero coupon pricing calculator for traders.

That's SOA in a nutshell! Identify, consolidate, orchestrate and govern a set of business functions or capabilities.

More Stories By JP Morgenthal

JP Morgenthal is a veteran IT solutions executive and Distinguished Engineer with CSC. He has been delivering IT services to business leaders for the past 30 years and is a recognized thought-leader in applying emerging technology for business growth and innovation. JP's strengths center around transformation and modernization leveraging next generation platforms and technologies. He has held technical executive roles in multiple businesses including: CTO, Chief Architect and Founder/CEO. Areas of expertise for JP include strategy, architecture, application development, infrastructure and operations, cloud computing, DevOps, and integration. JP is a published author with four trade publications with his most recent being “Cloud Computing: Assessing the Risks”. JP holds both a Masters and Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Hofstra University.

@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, 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.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo 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 ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, 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.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, 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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.