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Paving an SOA road map

A Burton Group report describes the tools, policies and procedures an enterprise can follow to building the road map for a service-oriented architecture.

Enterprises need to instill a mindset change among their applications developers, perhaps with incentives, to drive them toward service-oriented design.

That's one of the messages of a recent Burton Group report that offers advice on developing an enterprise road map for service-oriented architecture.

Developers should be incented to maximize their reuse of functionality.
James Kobielus
Senior analystBurton Group

"Developers should be incented to maximize their reuse of functionality," said James Kobielus, a senior analyst for the Burton Group and the author of the report. "The key is to lessen the amount of new code produced for a project and deliver what is needed in a short amount of time.

"The extent to which others reuse my code, I should be incentivized by that. Others validate my code by invoking it again."

Kobielus' report recommends that enterprises adopt loose-coupling principles -- namely separate service interfaces from the underlying implementations -- as they plan, develop and manage applications on their networks. A Web Services framework, meanwhile, should serve as the standard environment for SOAs.

"SOA is not an abstraction. It's a fairly new term to describe an old dream of maximum reuse of functionality throughout an application infrastructure," Kobielus said. "It should speed up development, increase reuse and maintain consistency of applications. For example, if an order-entry system is implemented once in an organization and it's a good [basic tool], other application development teams should reuse that system across a business by invoking it through a standard interface as defined in WSDL."

Kobielus also recommends that enterprise development teams transform themselves into centers of competency and share the functionality they develop with others on their networks.

To do so, they must reject the "not invented here" mindset and stop operating in silos, Kobielus said.

"Development teams take pride in building systems from the ground up," Kobielus said. "They don't pay attention if the functionality has already been implemented elsewhere in an organization. All of them are re-inventing the wheel."

By offering monetary incentives, or by holding an application development team's work up as a shining example of maximum reuse, service sharing and interoperability, an enterprise may be able to effect the mindset change it needs for a successful SOA strategy.

Kobielus' report said that an enterprise SOA road map needs "buy-in" from senior IT and business managers who have to be shown the cost and interoperability benefits of such a design style. Design and development policies and best practices, along with specific incentives, need to be laid out to encourage developers to design applications for maximum reuse, loose coupling and legacy encapsulation.

Managers may also have to educate employees about service-oriented policies, practices and tools for developers. There also has to be governance in place to enforce these policies, as well as best practices, the report states.

"Don't attempt a complete conversion to service-oriented architectures, principles, and practices overnight. Rather, the migration toward SOA-based development should be incremental," Kobielus wrote. "Adopt an SOA approach on all new IT projects, especially those that involve service development and integration based on the Web Services framework."

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