Roadmap for adoption of Service Oriented
We introduced the concept of a service-oriented architecture (SOA) in an earlier
Beacon edition [Beacon0305]. In the previous technology feature of The Beacon we
looked at the benefits that an SOA can bring to an organisation [Beacon0704]. In
this edition we will take a look at the process of adopting a service-oriented
architecture for an organisation. It should come as no surprise that the biggest
challenges are not always the technology challenges.
To recap, an SOA is “focused on creating a concept, technology, and process
framework that will allow enterprises to develop, interconnect, and maintain
enterprise applications and services efficiently and cost-effectively” [KIDD0704]. SOA
is concerned with more than technology issues; it provides a vehicle for closer
alignment of business objectives with IT operations.
2. Get People Involved
Buy-in from across the organization is essential to the success of SOA adoption. The
first step is to establish an SOA Center of Excellence (CoE) early and staff it with
cross-functional architects, business unit representatives, and business analysts with
strong technical, communication and business skills. Although it may be a grand-
sounding term, a CoE is, at its most basic, a group of people from across the
organization who are empowered to ensure the success of the project. It is vital that
this group reaches out to the wider communities within the organization.
This group needs to foster communications between traditionally disparate groups,
and address many issues not the least of which will be political in nature. A
responsive feedback loop between business units and development units will go a
long way towards establishing the trust that will be necessary for the project to
succeed. This could include, for example, establishing incentives and policies to
encourage development of new services and reuse of existing services across
business units of defined services.
A good starting point is to establish an information portal within the organization
through which the group can publish service information, design principles,
guidelines, best practices, patterns, templates, architecture documents and other
3. Plan for Success
Overall adoption of SOA can be a lengthy process, but the adoption process can start
to deliver value to the organization from an early stage. Early and repeated
successes are vital to the continued sponsorship of SOA adoption and to the
perceived value that SOA provides. “Think big, start small, deploy quickly” is a fitting
mantra to keep in mind when planning any large-scale endeavor.
We recommend that the SOA adoption process evolve over time with a phased
delivery plan. For a large organization with several products, multiple business units
and a global market presence, the roadmap should consider three distinct phases
covering the immediate 18-24 months, as shown in Figure 1. In previous editions of
The Beacon we looked at the justification for adopting SOA and the benefits that SOA
brings [Beacon0407, Beacon0305].
Some preparation and planning is required before the development of the new SOA
platform gets up and running. This time includes a traditional Elaboration Phase
involving the primary stakeholders [Beacon0211, Beacon0212]. The main goals here
are to build the initial team, create the vision for where the organization is going and
how SOA will help, and establish the architectural foundation. The CoE plays a critical
role in these early days. The activities in this phase should determine the feasibility
of the effort and prepare the organization for the architecture adoption and
implementation that lies ahead. Additional activities include performing a detailed
audit of existing systems and applications across the organization, including those
that will need to be migrated and those that will be integrated. The first strategic
services and applications need to be identified and business processes need to be
clarified. This is also the time to develop proof-of-concept implementations that
address areas of risk in the proposed services, particularly if this is the first time the
organization has used SOA-related technology.
Figure 1: Roadmap to SOA adoption
The diagram in Figure 1 shows the roadmap to adoption at a high level. The vertical
axis shows a distinction between business considerations and technology
considerations. The business considerations on the upper half of the diagram show
the evolution from strategy definition through developing a services model, to
developing multi-partner agreements. The technology concerns on the lower half of
the diagram address issues such as development of service interfaces through
architecture evolution and service orchestration, to service discovery and
development of richer service models.
Phase 1 of the adoption process focuses on integration. This is the time during which
the first real deliverables from the SOA adoption process are created. This phase
should typically be no more than 6 months in duration, and should include a
development effort of approximately 16 to 20 weeks. The target for this phase is to
introduce SOA to the organization, to achieve some reuse of services within a
business unit, and to use SOA for the first time to deliver a solution to some strategic
problem. The adoption plan needs to include a strategy to access enterprise data via
services and to achieve quick integration to legacy applications using Web services.
The project itself should be of relatively low complexity, without being trivial.
Phase 2 builds on the early success of Phase 1 and brings more focus to service
processes, workflow, and interoperability. The organization now has the confidence
that comes with experience and success. Eight to 12 months duration is typical for
this phase. Phase 1 starts to build the core SOA infrastructure within the
organization. Phase 2 builds on this to deliver additional applications and services for
multiple business units and functions across the organization. The adoption plan
needs to define how the organization is to achieve wider reuse of services across
business units. It is during this phase that you will start to gain some real and
valuable insights into issues of reuse, discovery, publication, and control of services.
Duplicate efforts across the organization can be more readily identified and
refactored into common services. In addition, the adoption plan needs to identify
shared services for security, authentication, logging, and quality-of-service
Phase 3 looks at the long-term strategy for SOA and its continued success within the
organization. There is more focus on dynamic discovery of services, including
discovery of external services in partner organizations. At this point there are many
enterprise-wide applications built and deployed on the SOA platform. Phase 3 should
see company-wide participation in defining the SOA infrastructure, and wide sharing
of services among business units, partners, and customers. As highlighted in
previous Beacon editions [Beacon0305, Beacon0407], SOA also brings the potential
benefits of reduced application development and maintenance costs. Those benefits
are realized during Phase 3.
4. Organizational and Operational Considerations
A danger in adopting SOA is the temptation to treat the adoption as a purely
technology-driven process. One of the most essential considerations in successful
SOA rollout is achieving buy-in from the business unit leaders. These are the people
who can validate the needs of your customers and the value provided by an SOA to
your strategy and product lines.
In adopting SOA, you should start small with a pragmatic, yet non-trivial, use case.
Grow the platform incrementally, and plan to add applications and services using an
evolutionary approach. All of the principles we discussed in our series on iterative
and incremental software development processes are valid for SOA adoption
The services that will be implemented as part of the SOA should start to provide
early value to the organization. It should be clearly articulated how this value will be
measured and evaluated. Early plans for SOA adoption should include strategies for
how these services can generate revenue or reduce costs. In addition, funding for
the infrastructure that will support shared services should come from across the
organization; it should not be left to a single business unit to bear the risk of the
Support groups and operations groups need to understand and learn new
administrative tools for managing services in a SOA environment. There are a rich
set of operations tools available, which themselves will require integration into the
Education is the single biggest critical success factor in rolling out a successful
strategy for SOA adoption. This includes education of everyone that will be involved
in the effort; development teams, architects, project managers, product managers,
and business unit leaders and their teams. The next step is appropriate and
sufficient planning and starting the right way. Minimize risk and increase the
likelihood of delivering business value by developing the SOA platform and services
in an iterative and incremental way. Finally, consider the non-obvious impacts that
the new SOA platform will have on your organization and develop a plan to address
them in advance.
All issues of The Beacon are available from www.traventec.com/.
[Beacon0201] “Web Services Part 1: Introduction to Web Services”. The
Beacon. January 2002.
[Beacon0211] “Iterative Software Development Processes”. The Beacon.
[Beacon0212] “Iterative Software Development Processes Part 2” (Co-
authored). The Beacon. December 2002.
[Beacon0302] “Enterprise Application Integration with J2EE”. The
Beacon. February 2003.
[Beacon0303] “Enterprise Application Integration Models” (Co-authored).
The Beacon. March 2003.
[Beacon0305] “Service Oriented Architecture”. The Beacon. May 2003.
[Beacon0407] “Service Oriented Architecture – delivering agility to the
travel domain”. The Beacon. July 2004.
[BLUESPEC04] The Middleware Company. “SOA Blueprints Specification”.
[CBDIR04] Sprott, David. “Service Oriented Architecture: An
Introduction for Managers”. CBDI Report commissioned by
[Chappel0406] Chappel, Dave. “Enterprise Service Bus”. O’Reilly June
2004. ISBN: 0-596-00675-6.
[IBM1203] Channabasavaiah, Kishore, Kerrie Holley, Edward M.
Tuggle, Jr. all of IBM. “Migrating to a service-oriented
architecture, Part 1”. December 2003.
[KIDD0704] Kidd, Rob. “SOA Blueprints: An Executive Summary”. July
[RMH0310] Monson-Haefel, Richard. “J2EE Web Services”. O’Reilly
October 2003. ISBN: 0-321-14618-2.