SOA The Economics of Agility

Marc Rix alerted me to a paper he had written on Bottom Line SOA: The Economics of Agility

I am a big fan of SOA and Marc’s writings and he makes a compelling case for the positive business cost/benefits of SOA over P2P architecture.  However, I feel compelled to make a few points to balance the argument slightly.

Although, as Marc points out, the cost of connecting all the components in a P2P architecture is undoubtedly high, I wonder if that would ever happen in reality, which makes the comparison to SOA a little unfair.  In a P2P architecture, agility is not impossible, the key is to find quick ways of connecting and orchestrating the various components in a loosely coupled manner.  This does not necessarily require a full blown re-architecture.

His target of zero latency (in turning a strategic business idea into a valuable technology solution) is again appealing, but unlikely to be achieved (or expected by the business….yet) even with the most sophisticated SOA.

Furthermore, the enterprise is always dreaming up new business processes and it’s impossible to conceive that new services will not also be regularly required which means that maintaining a Service Oriented Architecture can be just as painful as building P2P solutions quickly for new processes in many situations.  Indeed, most enterprises have literally hundreds of different software systems and these are constantly being added to, changed and decommissioned leading to the need for services maintenance, and in any case, the orchestration layer of any SOA needs constantly reconfiguring to meet new business requirements.

I have argued previously that the upfront costs (and just as importantly risks) for a major enterprise to embark upon a full-on SOA strategy are just too much for most corporate stomachs.

I have also argued that if SOA is supposed to deliver the agile enterprise why cannot it not be implemented in an agile, and incremental (and therefore cost effective) way?

I think that Marc has written a highly interesting and thought provoking paper that considers the “pure” arguments.  He points to a fork in the road where a decision must be made to take the P2P or SOA paths. I just think that in the real world there is some dirty middle ground that we have to accept exists and the route to business agility is a long one that starts with the smallest of steps, or possibly an off-road vehicle.

2 Responses to “SOA The Economics of Agility”

  1. Marc Rix Says:

    Alastair, I appreciate this feedback very much. You make some very astute points that readers of my paper should understand. My complete response is here:

  2. Economics of agility | SOA Governance - Service Oriented Architecture - SOA Business - SOA Design - SOA Services - SOA Software - SOA Solutions - SOA Security - SOA Web Service Says:

    […] work by Marc Rix called Bottom-Line SOA: The Economics of Agility (April 2007). See comments by Alastair Bathgate, Bill Barr and Gary Smith, with Marc’s […]

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