Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Case for Expropriated Reuse

Expropriated Reuse is a form of reuse that focuses on the here and now. The goal isn’t to define some new service and hope for ‘accidental reuse’ or even to put forward a case for ‘planned reuse’. Instead, it’s the act of going out and finding redundant code that already exists across multiple systems and turning it into a single shared service. I’ll repeat that: Find redundant code and refactor out the common elements into shared services. This ALWAYS results in multiple consumers (or mandated consumers, if you prefer).

I’ll give a quick example. Over time, company X had ‘accidentally’ created 5 software modules that existed inside of larger applications that all did some form of ‘quoting a price to customers’. This led to 5 teams maintaining it, 5 sets of computer hardware, etc. Expropriated Reuse is the act of going to the applications and cutting out the common elements and turning them into one shared service. Note that this is different than application rationalization or application consolidation that tends to use a nuclear bomb to deal with the problem. We’re recommending sniper firing with a bit of additional precision bombing.

The reasons that we do this are mostly financial. We want to reduce the amount of code that has to be maintained and operated. We want to reduce our costs. There are plenty of other reasons like increased quality, time-to-market, etc. but I’m done with those softies. The case is cold hard cash. Show me how to save money or go away.

IMHO, the new SOA agenda is about expropriated reuse. The SOA Program must actively identify opportunities to make the enterprise software portfolio more efficient and less costly. Just like in city planning exercises we must acknowledge the needs of the community over the needs of the few. And I’m in agreement with Clinton that ‘we should never waste a good crisis’. Reduced I.T. budgets have created a ‘crisis of efficiency’ in virtually all of our clients. The imperative is to find ways to reduce budgets in the short term and over the next 3-5 years.

To quote Todd Biske, “… a common analogy for enterprise architecture these days is that of city planning. … (does) your architecture have more parallels to the hot political potato of eminent domain? Are you having to bulldoze applications that were only built a few years ago whose residents are currently happy for the greater good? What about old town? Any plans for renovation? If you aren’t asking these questions, then are you really embracing enterprise SOA?”

I’ve been wondering: Should all SOA programs that do not have the authority to issue an order of ‘eminent domain’ on the software portfolio be shut down? Does your SOA program have a hunting license to go find inefficiencies / duplicate coding and to issue an order of eminent domain on that code? Can you imagine what our country would look like if we couldn’t issue an order of eminent domain to capture land for our highways, bridges or railroads? Can you imagine if we didn’t have the ability to implement ‘easement by necessity’? Consider your town/neighborhood and think about the following: Railroad easements, storm drain or storm water easements, sanitary sewer easements, electrical power line easements, telephone line easements, fuel gas pipe easements, etc. What a mess it would be. The crisis of budgets must draw out the leaders. If you haven’t already been issued a hunting license, it’s time to go get one.

So I’ll answer my own question. If you’re SOA program is responsible for watching the blinking lights on your newly acquired SOA Management tool, or making sure that people enter their ‘accidental’ services into your flashy registry, I’ll recommend that they shut you down. This is a waste of time. The SOA group must be given the imperative and authority (a hunting license) to find waste in the enterprise and to destroy it. SOA isn’t about policing people on WS-Standards or similar crap – it’s about saving your company millions.

No comments: