SOA’s People Problem by Bob Rhubart

Are reluctant passengers slowing down your SOA train?
Based on my conversations with various experts in service-oriented architecture (SOA), the consensus is that SOA tools and technology have achieved a high level of maturity. Some even use the term industrialization to describe the current state of SOA. Given that scenario, one might assume that SOA has been wildly successful for every organization that has adopted its principles.

Obviously SOA could not have achieved its current level of maturity and industrialization without having reached a tipping point in the volume of success stories to drive continued adoption. But some organizations continue to struggle with SOA. The problem, according to some experts, has little to do with tools or technologies.

“One of the greatest challenges to implementing SOA has nothing to do with the intrinsic complexity behind a SOA technology platform,” says Oracle ACE Luis Augusto Weir, senior Oracle solution director at HCL AXON. “The real difficulty lies in dealing with people and processes from different parts of the business and aligning them to deliver enterprisewide solutions.”

What can an organization do to meet that challenge? “Staff the right people,” says Weir. “For example, the role of a SOA architect should be as much about integrating people as it is about integrating systems. Dealing with people from different departments, backgrounds, and agendas is a huge challenge. The SOA architect role requires someone that not only has a sound architectural and technological background but also has charisma and human skills, and can communicate equally well to the business and technical teams.”

The SOA architect’s communication skills are instrumental in establishing service orientation as the guiding principle across the organization. “A consistent architecture comprising both business services and IT services can comprehensively redefine the role of IT at the process level,” says Danilo Schmiedel, solution architect at Opitz Consulting. That helps to shift the focus from siloes to services and get SOA on track.

To that end, Oracle ACE Director Lonneke Dikmans, a managing partner at Vennster, stresses the importance of replacing individual, uncoordinated projects with a focused program that promotes communication, cooperation, and service reuse. “Having support among lead developers and architects helps, as does having sponsors that see the business case and understand the strategic value,” she says. Read the complete article here.

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