Hitchhiker's Guide to Software Architecture and Everything Else - by Michael Stal

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Great SOA Swindle (Beware of hidden humor!]

You might have noticed it or at least you got a little bit suspicious. Something strange is currently going on in the IT universe. People who you highly respected a few years ago have been caught by a serious disease. Now, they behave and think in unprecedented ways. You will hear them constantly producing sentences that sound like "yada yada yada SOA yada Governance yada BPM yada yada EAI yada messaging". My code name for the disease is WSA (Web Service Addiction), sometimes also coined SOA (Serious Opinion Anomaly). Their personal background does not matter either. I know C++ nerds as well as enterprise Java developers that were both caught by the SOA trap. Even mice (MIcrosoft Centric Engineers) got brainwashed. How do you recognize a person that carries the SOA virus? It all starts with loose coupling. Obviously, these poor morons loose the coupling to their own brains. You will also detect a serious speaking disorder. If you listen carefully, they will constantly repeat words that sound like "WSDL", "WS" or "XML". Any relationship with the dark lord in the Harry Potter series might be completely coincidental. There is a kind of Turing test to prove whether another person is suffering from the SOA disease. Just, tell this person about a particular software engineering problem you are currently facing in your project. If your peer immediately (without further considerations or detail questions) tries to convince you that SOA is the appropriate solution, you're done.

Don't consider all this just a SOAP-opera. And don't wait until you REST in peace. Act now! This dangerous virus is spread and distributed on purpose. A secret organization called CIA (Computer Integration Architects) is responsible for all the mess. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Google, Oracle, <name your software vendor of choice> want to make us believe in a service paradise, while their actual goal is to increase stakeholder value. I bet they once secretly met discussing what new problem they could come up with in order to offer new products (sometimes also erroneously known as solutions).  And that's how Web Services and SOA were born.

Interestingly, only a few Web service success stories actually exist. And among all of the SOA success stories, most do not use Web services at all but a kind of messaging infrastructure. Now, guess how old messaging middleware is. Yes, we already have known and used the SOA paradigm for decades.

With other words, we are currently facing a giant SOA swindle created by a secret network of various contributors such as companies, media, or fellow engineers. Their actual goal is to achieve world domination. But that is another story and I will address this issue when talking about the truth of Web 2.0.


  • Part of the reason that many have bought the hype is that it really can help bring alignment between IT and the business. The WS Death Star crowd can fall into the JBOWS trap though (Just a Bunch of Webservices). As you rightly pointed out, everything must be used within context. Don't use a sledgehammer where a hammer will do. A couple friends of mine refer to this as the shiny, happy syndrome. It's like putting a set of car keys in front of a baby. They get fascinated for a little while, until they ultimately lose interest. Then they move onto the next shiny, happy thing (and focus solely on it).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:04 PM  

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