Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quit the Clowning

Joe McKendrick is confused. In his latest blog post, "Enterprise SOA Concept Falls out of Favor", he implies that 'enterprise SOA is failing' which couldn't be farther from the truth. I believe that his bad information comes from people who don't know SOA, don't do SOA and in some cases, caused the mess that SOA cleans up.

In my position, I have visibility into HUNDREDS of SOA programs. Many are active clients - many are past - many are just companies that I've had the privilege to speak with. And through my partners, (the leading SOA infrastructure companies), I have excellent visibility into their historical sales and future demand pipeline. Between these vehicles, I am able to see commitments related to SOA strategy, training, governance, architecture, infrastructure, organizational design, change management, packaged application enablement, service integration and composite application development. That said, I feel like I'm in an excellent position to comment on what is really going on with regard to SOA.

First, SOA is nowhere near the mythical Gartner beast called, "The Trough of Disillusionment". And I think it's funny that people keep trying to force us in that phase so that we can then say we've moved past it. Nope. We're not even close.

Second, the idiots that are running around yelling "guerrilla SOA" have to be put in their place. Many of these individuals are the ones responsible for silo-oriented thinking in the first place. They proposed small (agile) projects where we captured just enough requirements to begin coding and releasing. Guess what? This style of development doesn't jive with the concept of shared services. It is the cause of the problem, not the solution.

We love to compare EA to city planning (plotting out neighborhoods, identifying common infrastructure, etc.) Yes - this requires using your brain and creating a plan. Enterprise SOA involves long term planning coupled with short term results.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a fan of 'controlled agile'. The rules of agile by themselves are so incredibly destructive to large organizations that they have done immense harm. Shouting 'agile manifesto' at people who have to build real 'application communities' is a non-starter.

I am proud of the companies that I work with who take the time to think about what SOA means to them. They plan their community. They consider the common infrastructure. They create policies and rules for their citizens. They identify practices to build the structures (reference architectures). And once they've figured out how to build a community they go do it. They don't do it for the entire enterprise all at once - that isn't what 'enterprise SOA' means. Instead, they partition their enterprise into a set of communities and attack them, often in parallel.

Let's be clear. Enterprise SOA is, by far, in the strongest position it has EVER been in. The jokers who feed columnists bad information need to go away. But this won't happen on its own - it requires the columnist to call them the clowns that they are.

No comments: