Wednesday, 5 January 2011

SOA in Context

SOA does not exist in isolation. Whilst it may be the centre of the universe for SOA aficionados, SOA is just part of a "bigger picture". That isn't to say that SOA can be marginalized. Far from it, as SOA is an important part of, and enabler of that bigger picture as the image below illustrates.

SOA in Context
So, in SOA terms, we can describe the world in terms of the Service Architecture, which requires SOA-specific Service Management, and SOA Governance. That is, managing the services in an SOA-specific context, both across the delivery life cycle and in the operational state. Similarly, defining SOA-specific policies and exerting governance, again across the delivery life cycle and in the operational state.

But SOA is also part of, enables, and supports the IT Architecture and Business Architecture. There are not hard lines where one universe ends and another begins. Rather it is a continuum. For example, IT Architecture should contain elements of, link to, integrate with, (and so on...), both the Business Architecture and the Service Architecture. Often these might be combined into an Enterprise Architecture, but we can still identify within that the the Business-specific, IT-specific and SOA-specific aspects, and separate them if we wish into different views. In those views, we can then add detail that is specific only to that view.

Similarly, SOA Governance is driven by Business and IT requirements, but in turn enables Business and IT governance by ensuring that SOA policies exert governance over Services (again across the delivery life cycle and in the operational state) to deliver both business and IT outcomes, as well as SOA-specific outcomes, as illustrated below.

SOA Governance in Context

Nor should the concentric circles in the diagram be misread as implying 'layers', rather they are just indications of broader context. That is, you don't have to go through IT Architecture to connect the Service Architecture to the Business Architecture. I.e. it should be clear in the Service Architecture which Business concepts (business types, business processes, business capabilities, etc,) the various SOA Services support.

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