Service Oriented Architecture is now a common concept, it appeals to common sense, and its not hard to see the reason for it. But, before rushing into a big-bang implementation of SOA, an organization needs to go through a self-assessment to understand where to start, and what to expect. Here is a basic guide for an SOA self-assessment that will throw light on some of these areas.
What are your SOA goals – from a business perspective?
- Common view of data across multiple sources and applications
- Calculate ROI and other KPIs more accurately
- Reduce development costs by leveraging existing resources and processes
- Clear understanding and cataloguing of business capabilities/services
- Agility to market needs
What are your SOA goals – from an IT perspective?
- Accessing information locked in legacy systems
- Visibility and Transparency
- Flexibility, ease of change
- Loose coupling leading to easy extensibility and interoperability
- Reuse and lesser development effort and complexity
- Clear understanding and cataloguing of IT capabilities/services
- Agility to business needs
What are your key organizational barriers?
- Lack of organizational awareness
- Lack of organizational readiness
- Lack of organizational sponsors, or their belief in the returns
What are your key technical barriers?
- Tightly coupled architectures and applications
- Complex applications hampering the ability to reuse applications
- Unclear on the security strategy
- Wary of it turning out to be an uncontrolled spaghetti of services
What are the key problems that you think you might face?
- Lack of detailed business knowledge to be able to refactor or rationalize services
- Performance or scalability
- Difficulty in managing services
- Poor reliability or security
- Governance – ensuring that the services adhere to the organizational principles and guidelines
- Change management – for all kinds of users and processes
A generally accepted and practiced approach to an SOA implementation is to start small – with services that have a good business impact, but are low in risk of successful implementation. There might be a trade-off here, so there is a need to choose wisely. As these initial set of pilot services are designed, implemented, and used, there will be a lot of lessons learnt, many assumptions will be validated, best-practices will be established, and the concept and its value will be proven to stake-holders – of course, if all this is done well.