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Software architects navigate transitions

The drive behind SOA is a drive to find the level of abstraction at which useful integration can happen. If you have navigated a few paradigm shifts, such abstraction becomes familiar.

Among the necessary traits for the successful software architect is the ability to navigate transitions. Ha! That's a successful trait for humans generally, you say. Be that as it may, we are looking to see how this plays out in SOA today.

Pick your problems carefully.
David Bessemer
CTOComposite Software

We have been talking with individuals about what makes a good architect. For example, we spoke recently with David Besemer CTO, Composite Software, asking "What is different about the "SOA Architect?" Unquestionably, the drive behind SOA is a drive to find the level of abstraction at which useful integration can happen. If you have navigated a few paradigm shifts, such abstraction becomes familiar, and the proper granularity of integration may come more readily.

Besemer and others emphasize that architects must be technology savvy but cannot become 'technology driven.' They need to see business and integration problems for what they are – not as opportunities to apply the latest technology. But carefully analyzing new technologies is part of the job.

In relation to traditional software architecture, there are things different about SOA, and there are things that are not different. "There are a lot of familiar concepts," said Besemer, "but it is a different set of infrastructure. In SOA, how messages are parsed is very important."

Author Besemer has traversed a lot of paradigm shifts. He has built program trading systems on Wall Street, and researched natural language processing systems at GE Research. Here are some take-aways from our conversation on SOA skills today:

  • Know which tools are available, and be able to show others how to bring them to bear on a problem.
  • Pick your problems carefully. It is usually best to start small. Pick a small project. It allows you to learn and gain skills. You make mistakes - but that is less dangerous with a small project.
  • Know what infrastructure is available to solve problems. For example, you don't have to formally address issues of partial records updates or contention if the infrastructure is taking care of that.
  • If you are hiring, look for the SOA architect who thrives on learning languages and formats. They have gone through a transition, If they went through the water once, they pretty well may be able to do it again.

Besemer is among the authors of ''An Implementors' Guide to SOA: Getting it Right,'' a valuable guide to the skills sets required for SOA success. An excerpt from that book is available on SearchSOA.com. Read others in our series on SOA skills such as ''Habits of the successful software architect'' with Jeff Schneider and ''A view on building essential SOA skills'' with Jim Greene. Find a bookmarkable ever-growing guide to SOA skills learning on our site too.

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