Microsoft Debunks SOA Myths

At its Microsoft SOA and Business Process Conference 2009, Steven Martin, senior director of Developer Platforms and Tools at Microsoft, debunked some of the leading myths about service-oriented architecture, including SOA is dead and SOA stops at the firewall. Among other things, Martin also discussed how Microsoft's modeling strategy with Oslo and its cloud strategy with Windows Azure play into the company's SOA initiatives.

REDMOND, Wash. -- Microsoft kicked off its 2009 SOA and Business Process Conference here by attempting to debunk some of the myths related to service-oriented architecture.

Steven Martin, senior director of product management in Microsoft's Developer Division, started out by addressing the issue of SOA's relevance, as the discussion in the industry over the last few weeks, spurred by Burton Group analyst Anne Thomas Manes, delved into whether SOA is dead.

"There has been a lot of hype around the creation of SOA and hype around the death of it...," Martin said, noting that SOA is in fact not dead. Yet, "the more things change, the more things stay the same," he added, noting that several myths about SOA remain.

The first myth Martin set out to debunk is that "SOA stops at the firewall." Martin said this one tends to look at SOA as a way to deliver EAI (enterprise application integration) based functionality. However, "if we think of it [SOA] this way we're missing a good chunk of functionality," Martin said.

The truth is that SOA does not stop at the firewall, he added. But "the most important person in the IT organization today is the guy who runs the firewall," he said.

The second myth Martin addressed is that "SOA aligns business with IT." For his part, Martin said, "SOA is a 'how,' not a 'what.' What aligns business and IT? People. SOA is more of a conversation around methodology.

The next SOA myth Martin took on is that "SOA governance fixes everything." Martin said that despite Microsoft's good relationships with SOA governance solution vendors such as AmberPoint and SOA Software, the company does not look at SOA governance as a panacea. "We think it's a beginning of a conversation, not an end. Governance needs to span all of IT, not just SOA."

Meanwhile, Martin gave a bit of the history of SOA, mentioning that SOA emerged from Web services, which is something IBM and Microsoft together pioneered. However, "IBM pulled of some marketing genius and defined SOA around what they had to offer," Martin said. Yet, "Microsoft is bringing SOA to the masses," he said. Still, "we've just scratched the surface. We're taking SOA beyond the firewall, and coupling it with modeling will change everything," he added.

Then Martin spoke about industry events relating to SOA starting from the last 10 years, to the last 10 months, to the last 10 weeks. Over the last 10 years several trends have occurred that led the way for SOA, such as the Web services explosion, the world became more federated, going beyond the firewall matters, and "core versus commodity becomes top of mind," Martin said.

And over the last 10 months more trends occurred such as the re-emergence of virtualization. Virtualization is now available to the masses. Another trend that got bigger over the last 10 months is that the cloud and modeling have surfaced to extend the value of SOA, Martin said.

Meanwhile, as recent as the last 10 weeks, the major trend is that the cloud is coming, he said. So focusing business logic abstraction is back at the top of the to-do list. Other key trends or issues from the last 10 weeks include that "absorption of IT assets will be less painful, modeling is your friend and the first 'S' in 'Software plus Services' or S+S matters," Martin said.

"SOA for us is not an elitist pursuit," Martin said. He instructed attendees that are looking to implement SOA to "start small, find success and grow. Reuse will continue to be of particular value," he added.