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Re: [ontolog-forum] The Open Group SOA Ontology

To: edbark@xxxxxxxx, "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: c.harding@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "Neil Custer" <neil.custer@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2008 12:09:12 -0500
Message-id: <7a5bda850807161009u78108a73v860640377eefd781@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
I agree with you Ed, that there has been much "hype" over the promise of SOA enhancing business functions.  But does hype necessarily mean untruth?  Points of interest in your post:

This is the hype version of SOA, whose purpose is to sell webservice implementations (read: "new software technology") to management, and allow a bunch of pundits to sell books and "newspapers".

First of all, one important aspect of SOA can involve a review of the business process and reengineering the process itself.  It is not have to be just about fielding a "new software technology" or changing the way that information is shared between systems using web services as opposed to the legacy point-to-point interfaces.  This is another one of the positive attributes of web services altogether.

SOA can finally address the need to truly integrate business functions with IT and create a potential for maximum reuse of IT assets in an organization -- those have been the largest, most difficult challenges in business over the last two decades from all the trade rags that I've read.  Thus, the "hype" to business is to finally fix the disconnect between business functions and the IT center and to lower costs through potential reuse of IT assets.

The services that we know how to implement with software, and the only ones that are really implemented, are all relatively simple technical services that are pure information technology.

No doubt they are pure information technology at the interface level, but to say they are "relatively simple technical services" is, I don't believe, accurate.  Just getting a simple web service to "work" is surely no big deal, however, the coordination of technologies necessary to field a working, discoverable, secure, manageable, and valuable implementation of web services for an organization is far from trivial.
> A SOA service is an IT artifact that *may* be an effective way to
> realize that business function.

Specifically, when that function can be fulfilled solely by the
communication of information.

One might argue that many functions are fulfilled solely by the communication of information.  However, other functions are also dependent upon, however not solely, by the communication of information.  For instance, I place an order for a product on a web site. The business function of fulfilling an order is totally dependent upon receiving the details of where to ship what I've ordered.  In fact, the process can go no further without my shipping address.  Otherwise, the ordered items can be selected from the warehouse, packaged and staged for shipping, but without the destination address, the process is stopped dead in its tracks.

I think the reason for the hype to management is because they won't "buy the technology" for technology's sake--just because it "promises" to improve IT-asset reuse or agility or flexibility-- the business execs have to see the business value, and without that tie from IT to business, too many organizations will never see the value at all.

-- Neil

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