The Oracle Australia and New Zealand Middleware and Technology Blog.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kiss and Tell

It's a kiss and tell SOA expose from The Red Room. The kiss is of course, 'keep it simple stupid' and I'm going to tell you all about it.

Continuing our occasional series here on the Red Room where Saul, Richard and I discuss 10 mistakes that cause SOA to fail.

One of the things I really like about SOA is the fact that it is deja-vu all over again. We've all been here before. COM/DCOM, CORBA, Object Oriented Programming, VB, Java... you name it. Central to each of these endeavours are some broadly shared concepts around abstraction, independence, reuse and so on. SOA is the next evolution of what we in IT have been trying to do since the Harvard Mark II was introduced to the Harvard Mark I. That is, keep it simple, or as described in the principles of the Agile Manifesto, "Simplicity - the art of maximizing the amount of work not done - is essential".

SOA is the latest, greatest, and indeed simplest way we've come up with to express this. There is a world of underlying complexity beneath simply booking your airline ticket or making a phone call or twittering absent mindedly from the bus stop. The complicated bits and bytes of 32 bit and 64 bit architectures. Of programming languages and compilers. Of formats and protocols and data structures. SOA allows us to simplify all that. It allows us to present to our business masters a set of capabilities that are interoperable, unbreakable, composable and reusable (thanks ZapThink).

Why do we make life so complicated? And this isn't just the IT industry, although lets face it we're pretty good at it. SOA give us the simplest way to present all the complex hard work we do it IT to the outside world. Yes there is a whole lot of iceberg under the water that is unseen but that's how it should be I think. We should be able to talk about what we do in simple terms, we should be able to make ourselves understood, or we'll all end up like 'Comic Book Guy' .

Homer: Welcome to the Internet, my friend. How can I help you?
Comic Book Guy: I'm interested in upgrading my 28.8 kilobaud Internet connection to a 1.5 megabit fiber optic T1 line. Will you be able to provide an IP router that's compatible with my token ring Ethernet LAN configuration?
Homer (staring blankly): Can I have some money now?

I'm not for a moment suggesting that implementing SOA correctly is simple. It isn't. It is a serious undertaking that needs serious planning and serious people to do it properly. But unless we focus on the simplicity instead of the complexity we're just going to make it un-necessarily hard for ourselves and our users. It's not rocket surgery after all.

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