Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Enterprise SOA Manifesto

Recently, the SOA camp has entered into a period of self-reflection and evaluation. Through this endeavor, the camps are dividing. There are those who feel that SOA aligns more closely with the concepts of enterprise architecture and there are those who feel that success can only be driven by more agile, quick hit wins. The optimal answer is likely somewhere in the middle... an approach that blends the best of EA with the best of Agile.

In the vein of the "Agile Manifesto", I'll post my position and invite my colleagues to offer their ideas.

First, it is worth defining Enterprise SOA. The definition that has evolved from working with our customers is,

Enterprise SOA is:
  • An Enterprise IT Strategy that encompasses a set of business, process, organizational, governance and technical methods.

  • It enables business agility through the use of loosely coupled services that are used as building blocks to develop composite applications that can be reused and recombined to address changing business priorities.

    Complementing this definition is a set of supporting philosophies. Note that these philosophies are about Enterprise SOA, not just 'service oriented architecture', which has already been covered.

    The Enterprise SOA Manifesto
    1. Communities over Silos
      Enterprise Architecture focuses on creating portfolios of integrated software to fulfill a business mission. Although application silo's can often be created more quickly, the long term process of integrating silo's of logic, data and policy create spaghetti architecture, demoralize teams, stagnate innovation and increase long term maintenance costs. Communities (or application portfolio domains) should adhere to enterprise standards while each zone tailors the localized rules and regulations.

    2. Balanced Planning over The Extremes
      Enterprise SOA attempts to balance 'planning' versus the extremes (too little/too much). The popularity of the Agile movement was largely a knee-jerk reaction to the frustrations with "waterfall planning". Enterprise SOA blends long term planning with tight iterations. Think, "planning in the large, agility in the small".

    3. Governed Delivery over Ad-hoc Delivery
      The enterprise must prioritize the needs of the many over the needs of the few. Applications must be architected to fit into an ecosystem of applications. This will require adherence to guidelines and policies on technical standards and software processes, employed to protect the long term interests of the community.

    4. Sharing and Reuse over Building from Scratch
      Portfolios of applications will have many common functional requirements. An implicit non-functional requirement in Enterprise SOA is to design for sharing and reuse where appropriate.

    5. Business Priorities over the Enterprise SOA Manifesto
      I.T. systems are either a reflection of the business today or a projection of where the business is heading tomorrow. The I.T. approach must not become a religious battle fought at the expense of the business. On occasion, it will be in the best interest of the business to violate the principles of the Enterprise SOA Manifesto for the purpose of 'doing the right thing' for the business. Appropriate planning, governance and leadership should make this the exception, not the rule.

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