Why I think Web Oriented Architecture is phony
If you are not in the software industry and not conversant in the jargon, you probably think I have lost my mind. What do you mean WOA? It stands for Web Oriented Architecture (WOA). So, from what I can see the positioning is that SOA is about back end services and protocols like SOAP, etc. and WOA is about cool web protocols like REST, etc. So, perhaps we are supposed to say, thank goodness that we can move away from SOA and find something new and exciting to focus on.
Well, I hate to burst the bubble but SOA is not just about back end protocols and services. Protocols like REST that provide stateless communication are, in fact, an integral part of a service oriented architecture. Before you get mad at me. Let me explain. When we talk about SOA we really aren’t talking about protocols. Sure there are lots of protocols and interfaces that are an important part of service orientation. But the power of SOA is in the fact that it enables businesses to focus on two key enables:
1. creating business services that are key business functions
2. enabling these services to be used flexibly to create a variety of business processes that can be changed quickly to enable change and innovation
Companies are getting pretty creative with this approach. Not only are they creating business services involving software components, but they are tying those business services into business elements such as monitoring electric meters. An excellent example is the SOA implementations of two electric utilities: Delaware Electric and Austin Energy. Neither of these utilities are the biggest in the world. Both are mid-sized utilities with limited IT resources. However, they have both leveraged SOA to tie the ability to monitor and manage power usage and working with constituents to help make the customer experience better and save money at the same time.
These are just two of the 25 case studies that are part of the forthcoming second edition of SOA for Dummies. What did we learn? Simply put, customers are implementing SOA from a business perspective. They are leveraging back end and web based capabilities and gaining huge business value. These customers don’t care if you call this approach SOA, WOA, or CASH…they simply know that it is allowing them the flexibility they never had before.
The bottom line is that we simply don’t need another new acronym. SOA is not a fad, it is a long term business approach to turning IT and business assets into services that can be used as part of an evolving business process.