How difficult is SOA?

SOA often gets spoken about as if it's incredibly difficult to achieve, but, in truth, the principles on which it is based aren't so hard to understand.

Granted, service-oriented architecture requires you to do a lot of things. It takes no small amount of time to redesign your architecture and re-orient your IT organization. The documentation involved, the training, the trial and error – it can eat up a good chunk of your life.

Yet how hard is it? Yes, it's involved, but is it hard to do? There is a qualitative difference between having a lot to coordinate and needing a crew of supergeniuses to implement it. The answer, it would seem, is that SOA doesn't require advanced mental gymnastics.

Not surprisingly, simplicity is what gets stressed in the analyst community more often than not. Do an internal inventory, set a clear roadmap, involve the necessary parties and start small are among the usual recommendations. You could always pay attention to best practices.

You could look into an SOA implementation checklist. If you wanted to go a little deeper, we have an SOA Lifecycle All-in-One Guide, which covers SOA implementation from soup to nuts.

The point is, SOA isn't some form of arcana. It's not shrouded in mystery and no human sacrifices will be required to achieve it. Perhaps above all commitment is the key ingredient. The resources are out there for those who want to pursue service-oriented architecture. Plenty of companies are already well on their way to implementing it and it's not because they are possessed of a unique brilliance. They made the commitment, learned the basics and laid out a sensible roadmap. Chances are that some or your competitors are among them.

SOA may not be easy or quick, but it's also not rocket science. One of the things that may be making it harder is that some companies have approached it with a half-hearted commitment. SOA isn't for dabblers. You don't pay attention to your architecture only when you're in the proper mood. If you try to approach SOA in sort of haphazard fashion then you'll be making it far more difficult than it needs to be.

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