Wednesday, 28 October 2009

SOA Manifesto – Good, but too late?

This week, a small group of SOA cognoscenti met and published a SOA Manifesto. Thought it is eloquently put, it is difficult to see what has been said in the SOA Manifesto that hasn’t been said before.

The reality is that SOA isn’t new anymore. That some claim it is in fact dead or passé is testimony to no matter how much advocates of SOA protest, we have failed to fully get the message across, at least to the business that is footing the bill. I am not sure how the SOA Manifesto changes that. Those that are already pre-disposed towards SOA will become signatories ( I already have); those who are not will ignore it. Little will have changed.

I am reminded of the current political situation here in the UK, where the current labour government could put anything they wish in their manifesto for the coming general election but they are so unpopular it wouldn’t make much difference. Even if they promised to abolish taxes, they still wouldn’t convert those who have already made up their mind how they are going to vote. (and when did any political party actually deliver on their manifesto?)

The world has moved on. SOA should be considered business as usual. Yes, organizations still need to improve the way they approach SOA . Yes, people still need to adopt and apply the principles and be provided with better guidance. But if you want to get the majority’s attention, then you need a manifesto that excites them about the coming decade, not one that tells them what they should have been doing better in the last.

As I highlighted in my blog on Architecture for the Smarter Planet, SOA is one piece of an architectural puzzle that is going to challenge enterprises and individuals over the next decade. Although I believe the future is intrinsically service-based, I know we are not going to convince organizations to invest by telling them all they need is SOA. Rather, SOA has to be put in context, and positioned as one part of something much bigger.

Something like the Smart Ecosystem seems a much more holistic topic for a manifesto that addresses the needs of the next decade. The challenge for businesses will be how they become successful participants in ecosystems they do not control. SOA plays an important part in that, and can be a key enabler in a genuine business vision.

But just saying that SOA should be “business driven” doesn’t make it so.

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