Posted tagged ‘Service Oriented Architecture’

Step Off! Step Off! Step Off!

February 27, 2009

I had an epiphany this week. No wait, I don’t think it can be an epiphany if it’s been coming for a long time. But after sitting through yet another presentation about SOA and web services this week at a medical conference on portals, I am now 100% convinced that SOA does NOT stand for Service Oriented Architecture. It stands for Step Off, Amigo. That’s right. And here’s why:
Every SOA vision starts like this. There’s a beautiful meadow in the midst of an expansive park, bathed in sunlight on a summer day. People of all ages begin to congregate in the meadow, each bringing a different piece of sporting equipment. There are bats, softballs, Frisbees, footballs, soccer balls, tennis rackets, golf clubs and hackey sacks. And I walk into the meadow too. I don’t have any sports equipment but I think to myself, “I don’t need any.” With all these generous, friendly people, we’ll all use everyone else’s stuff, play games, laugh, have fun, and the world will be a better place because of the time we shared together…
But then someone tries to hit a golf ball with a tennis racket. Someone else tries to kick a Frisbee. Someone else tries to inflate the hackey sack with a football pump and pin and spills the hackeys (is that what the little pellets are called??) all over the grass. And someone else grabs their soccer ball, holds it tight to their chest, and refuses to let anyone even look at it, no less play with it, for fear that they will lose it forever. And soon, everyone leaves the meadow and returns back to the safety of their homes, secure in the knowledge that they haven’t lost what they came to the meadow with.
OK, I admit that, even for me, that’s a bit much, metaphor-wise. But I think you all get my point. I started thinking, a few years back, that the biggest challenges to implementing a Service Oriented Architecture would be transaction management, selecting the right middleware, accounting for security and maybe even defining and writing the services themselves. But I was wrong, wasn’t I?? The challenge of SOA is getting people to share their data, service, or application. Because somehow, in this information economy, if you have no information, you have no economy. So everyone has decided that, as much as they love the SOA dream, when they are asked to join in and share THEIR piece of the data and services universe, the response is universal: Step Off, Amigo.
I am not sure how to do it, but we all need to grow up and start to really believe that we’re not doing our floundering organizations any favors by hiding data in spreadsheets and Access databases, or making it so damn hard to get a few records out of an ERP system that you just stop trying.
Remember: the best athletes can play soccer AND tennis, and they can water ski AND throw a Frisbee. Find your value in an organization by how good an athlete you are, not whether you own the hackey sacks…