Break New Ground

Talking about the architecture that refuses to die

Bob Rhubart
Community Manager, Oracle Groundbreakers Team

In the wake of Anne Thomas Mane's demonstration of the blogging value of bold pronouncements (See SOA is Dead, Long Live Services), tracking reaction to her article has been more fun than watching YouTube videos of skateboarders demonstrating Darwin's theories of natural selection -- though far more educational.

Thanks to a post by David Linthicum, I followed a link to Did SOA die or do we just suck at architecture?, a wonderful post by Mike Kavis. Mike lists six points illustrating the latter possibility, among them:


    • We don't understand what an architect really is. How many people do you know that have the title of architect? How many of these same people have a clue on how to architect an enterprise system. I laugh when I see job openings for a .Net architect. What does that mean? Is this person capable of architecting a .Net framework to be used by the .Net community? No, this person knows .Net real well. That's not an architect, that's a "senior, sr. developer."
    • We don't understand what architecture really is. I am a member of many LinkedIn groups that focus on architecture. There is so much discussion on what the value of EA is and hundreds of different answers. If we cant agree on the value of EA amongst ourselves, how in the world is the CEO or CFO going to support an EA initiative? There are so many good frameworks out there (Zachman, TOGAF, E2AF, etc.) yet it seems that we are trying to reinvent the wheel. Pick one, tweak it to your organizations needs, and follow it. It is not rocket science.


Based on what I've seen of the ongoing architecture discussion in various groups and communities, I think Mike makes a compelling case. And with so much debate about architects and architecture in general, is it any wonder that there is so much misunderstanding about what SOA is, how to do it, and what it's supposed to do?

And that begs another question: if there is indeed so little consensus on architecture in general and on SOA in specific,  what guarantee is there that the "surviving" service-oriented concepts Ms. Manes mentions in her article, including cloud computing and SaaS,  won't suffer from the same misunderstanding?

Perhaps there is no such guarantee. But the cure for misunderstanding is communication. So for architects, particularly those who have to bridge the gap between the IT and business sides of the house, the ability to clearly explain these concepts and technologies is essential, regardless of how they're labeled.

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