Industry SOA incompatible with interoperability

Earlier today I met up with CA’s chief technology officer Al Nugent. One of the areas we discussed was SOA. If SOA truly delivered on its promise, we would be able to pick and choose best of breed components to build our IT infrastructure, plug them all together, and swap out components that didn’t fit our requirements.

Now Al believes this is highly unlikely to happen. The reason is that while all the components of our software infrastructure may well talk a common language through XML, the interfaces to the services available on these components will remain proprietary.

Anyone attempting to swap out a core component of their SOA infrastructure, will need to undertake extensive integration work to ensure the new component provides an exactly identical programming interfaces to the one it replaces.

SOA will not get us any closer to plug and play interoperability – IT companies have no real incentive to make it easy for users to swap out one of its products for a rival’s.

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It seems unreasonable to expect SOA to deliver harmonisation and a homogenising effect across disparate application stacks in the manner described. Does this stem from the SOA spin doctors, cloaked in the mysterious wonder of 'latter day alchemy'? The innovation and agility constraints that this would place on application and systems design may well actually be quite negative. SOA can only go so far, and until buyers demand homogeneity and standards bodies are agile enough to 'prevent' bespoke enhancements, then we've got to make sensible strides towards better architectures whilst managing sensible expectations. Without that differentiation I fear we could be caught waving our 'magic wands' over what turns out to be 'base metal'.

I've been wondering lately who will be first to diagnose a case of SOA Fatigue Syndrome. I feel it's a short matter of time before business owners go down in a pandemic. For anyone out there with Post-SOA Traumatic Stress Disorder, word on the street is a vaccine is in advanced development!

Hi Cliff ,

I have read this article and it is very interesting and helpful for my thesis.

I am currently part of a group undertaking a thesis entitled 'Service Orientated Architecture for the IT Capability of the Firm' in University College Cork in Ireland (UCC). We are actively seeking correspondence from IT professional regarding SOA and would be indebted to you if you could forward our survey to your members in an effort to aid our research.

The survey is in two parts and will take no longer than 5 to 10 minutes. The survey is located at:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at this email address or on 087 97 171 81

Thanks in advance,

Magdalena Lisowska