Chapter 1 Getting to Know SOA
In This Chapter
▶ Finding out why you should care about SOA
▶ Liberating business from the constraints (and tyranny) of technology
▶ Illustrating the need for SOA
▶ Saving bundles by using what you have
▶ Expanding your SOA to customers, partners, and suppliers
▶ Focusing on function
Service oriented architecture (SOA) is a hot topic being bandied about by IT vendors across the globe. IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Software AG, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft (just to drop a few names) are all singing from the SOA songbook, and hundreds of vendors are adding their tunes as we speak. “What’s SOA?” you ask.
We suspect that you’ve already skimmed a dozen articles and read (or deleted) hundreds of e-mails from vendors pushing SOA, but the answers you’ve gotten so far have been, well, vague and inadequate. The short answer is that SOA is a business approach to building IT systems that allows businesses to:
✓ Leverage existing assets
✓ Create new ones
✓ Easily enable the inevitable changes required to support the business
For you impatient readers out there, we expand on this short answer in Chapter 5. However, right now, we think the more important question is, “Why should I care about SOA?” In this chapter, we try to answer this question.
The promise of service oriented architecture is to liberate business from the constraints of technology, unshackling technologists and business leaders from the chains they themselves have forged. (“IT workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” as it were.) This has major implications both for the business and for the IT structure that supports the business. From our perspective, one of the most important aspects of SOA is that it’s a business approach and methodology as much as it is a technological approach and methodology. SOA enables businesses to make business decisions supported by technology instead of making business decisions determined by or constrained by technology. And with SOA, the folks in IT finally get to say “yes” more often than they say “no.” We pronounce SOA to rhyme with boa (bow-uh). Stretching it out by clearly articulating each letter (S-O-A) is perfectly acceptable but might leave you stymied when we say things like, “SOA what?”