Sunday, August 27, 2006

Decoupling the Client and Service Platforms

The realization seems to be hitting the masses that Service Oriented Architecture isn't just about the Services, rather it is about the consumption of those services. Dare I say, it is about the clients (and the services).

The SOA programs that I've seen stall out typically were because they failed to identify the composite applications that would consume the services. It sounds rather obvious - but it isn't about building or buying services. Value is created when business people use clients that leverage the services. I guess that's one of the reasons why I always try to call this paradigm 'Client-Service Computing', rather than SOA.

Recently I reviewed a few enterprise SOA reference architectures and noticed an unpleasant pattern. Architects were forgetting to put the 'client' on the architecture. I know - sounds silly. Really smart architects get so caught up in identifying the patterns, domains, interactions, practices and standards associated with services that they forget about the clients!

So - we have clients and services... and we decoupled them. I'll say it again - we decoupled them! This takes me to my next point. For legacy reasons architects are continuing to insist that the client platforms be tightly aligned to the service platforms (.Net on both, etc.) This is non-sense.

Many of the last generation client platforms were not optimized for service oriented computing. By this I mean that they don't easily accommodate the Web Service standards nor do they embrace 'contract first design' and in general - many of them just plain stink. The reason we use them is because analysts like Gartner told us to go with a single platform. It's time to decouple the client and the service platforms. The client platforms should be optimized around UI capabilities including collaboration and human-computer-interactions. This might mean using a strong Web 2.0 platform. My bottom line is that there is no need to continue building UI's using the same ole platforms. It's time to optimize for this computing paradigm.

No comments: