CLARITY: Anyone understand SOA?


Here’s what’s frustrating me lately – there is no easy way of getting simple answers to anything. Nothing is simple anymore. Everything gets swamped in too much information.

Take Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) for example. I want a simple, agreed upon definition for this phrase. I usually explain it in terms of having different servers exposing web services etc. Incomplete and too simple I know, but something that people can relate to. But I’m after something more concrete. Anyway, I came across the following gem in an ad from a ‘master’ SOA company – here’s what they defined SOA as:

‘A paradigm for organising and utilising distributed capabilities that may be under the control of different ownership domains. It provides a uniform means to offer, discover, interact with and use capabilities to produce desired effects consistent with measurable preconditions and expectations.’

Any of this make sense to you? I guess if you already understand SOA then you can decode what that definition is all about.

So I popped over to Wikipedia to try to get some clarity. Here’s the link. And guess what – that waffle above (from the ad) is actually a definition attributed to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS). Yikes! Good luck with the ‘Advancement’ part. And on it goes in the Wikipedia article. The more I read the more frustrated I got. Don’t get me wrong I’m a big Wikipedia fan, but I start to wonder why it is so hard to get to the essence of things. Imagine trying to explain SOA to your CEO in the terms above. Not likely.

[By way of contrast I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how clearly Wikipedia outlined the Windows Live concept – I actually felt I had a good grasp of it by the end, something Microsoft hasn’t been especially good at giving.]

Do you ever get the feeling there is too much theory/data/information and not enough reality/simplicity/clarity anymore?

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By Craig Bailey