SOA and EA…

David Linthicum recently posted his thoughts about the Shared Insights Enterprise Architectures Conference held at the Hotel del Coronado near San Diego. David states:

The fact is I heard little about SOA during the entire conference. Even the EA magazines and vendors did not mention SAO, and I’m not sure the attendees understand the synergies between the two disciplines. In fact, I think they are one in the same; SOA at its essence is “good enterprise architecture.”

I attended this conference, and I have to agree 100% with Dave. There was a great case study from Ford, a facilitated discussion which I participateed in (this was a very good idea, I thought), and Dave’s talk (I was in another session during this time), and not much more. It was mentioned here and there, but I was quite surprised at the lack of discussion around it. This was the first EA-specific conference I’d been to, so I didn’t know what to expect. I came away feeling that the EA community is a bit too disconnected from the real world. The field is still dominated by the notion of frameworks, Zachman, TOGAF, etc. It reminds me of the early days of OO and the multitude of methodologies that were available. While these frameworks and methodologies were extremely powerful, no organization could ever adopt them completely due to the huge learning curve involved. Many organizations have resentment toward their EAs as they see them as sitting up in an ivory tower somewhere pontificating the standards down on the enterprise. As with anything of this nature, there’s a little bit of truth in it. Many developers don’t understand the importance of EA.

There’s a need to bring these two worlds together. I don’t think SOA can be successful at the enterprise level without a strong EA team. At the same time, if EA’s are not driving SOA, and instead focusing on the models within their chosen framework, that won’t help either. I think that SOA has appeal at multiple levels, from the developer to the business strategist and everywhere in between. An interesting thing about the Zachman framework is that it’s built around the concept that each consumer of the information in the framework needs their own view. I believe that the core concept of SOA, services, can be shared across these views, linking them together, whether business or technical. That linkage is what’s missing today, and it’s a shame that no speaker at the conference hammered this point home. The presentations were either EA or SOA, not both. Joe McKendrick makes similar points in his blog about the recent BPM and SOA divide. It’s time to stop dividing and fighting separate battles and realize we’re all on the same team.

7 Responses to “SOA and EA…”

  • Glad to see others realize that EA isn’t just about Zachman, TOGAF, etc. Maybe drilling into why it isn’t should be the topic of your next blog entry.

  • A big +1 from me… -brenda

  • Good posting Todd. This is a really unfortunate aspect of EA – it can easily get too purist. Too much time on the architecture of the architecture.

    However the other extreme is not helpful either, whereby Enterprise Architects position their approaches as “having been service oriented for years” on the basis that they use the word service in their models. There is a bit more to it than the word after all.

    But as you say, the SOA purists seem to have quite a few blind-spots when it comes to many of the requirements of making enterprise-level initiatives work.

    Of course the two need each other. One of my contacts likes to describe EA’s new role in the Enterprise as being managing SOA-enabled (business) change. He could be right.

  • Nice Post.

    That was well said. Always appreciate your indepth views. Keep up the great work!


  • Linthicum is partially correct. A SOA is an instance of an enterprise architecture. There are other technical approaches (EDA, MDA, etc.) and SOA is just one of them. Saying that SOA IS enterprise architecture is just as misleading as saying SOA is WS*.

  • I agree with you that SOA is one view of enterprise architecture, or as you put it, an instance of it, rather than being one and the same.

  • […] SOA and EA… This post on November 6, 2006 discussed the perceived differences between traditional EA practitioners and SOA adoption efforts. […]

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