Colin Coates reviews SOA Made Simple

Maybe it should be called “An anodyne introductory survey of SOA for the CTO or CIO” ?

The generous people at Packt publishing provided me with a review copy of SOA Made Simple, on the understanding that I would share my thoughts about the book, once I’d had a chance to actually read it…

The good stuff

  • Straight down to business!
    • The first chapter makes an excellent start in identifying the problems that SOA attempts to solve:
      • Mismatched thinking about business versus IT concerns.
      • Duplication of functionality and data in organizational silos.
      • Mentions various requirement, analysis and design artefacts that might constitute an architectural model.
    • The second chapter leads with the key components of defining a service: contracts, interfaces, and implementation.
  • How exemplary!
    • The authors frequently use concrete business examples to provide a pragmatic slant to their discussion of SOA.
  • How to spend your money? Chapters 7 through 10 provide solid guidance about:
    • What to plan for.
    • How to explain the value of the SOA investment.
    • Prepares you for the ups-and-downs of the SOA lifecycle.
    • Versioning the interfaces.
    • Justifying SOA investments to your manager or in the board-room.
    • Methodologies to support SOA delivery.

Not so satisfying, but good for technical managers

  • Chapters 3 through 6 read like a survey of technical concerns and considerations, rather than hard-core advice on how to build web services. Topics include:
    • Service identification and design focuses on performing gap analysis to identify when to buy an existing service, versus authorizing the expense of building a custom solution.
    • Scoping the build and delivery of services by applying classification.
    • The building blocks of a SOA platform.
    • Architecting a solution, with emphasis on choosing from among the offerings of Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.

The introduction to book includes a paragraph about “Who this book is for”. It identifies the target audience as anyone who is “implementing or about to implement SOA in an IT environment” (and specifically lists architect, designer, developer, administrator and team lead). The identified audience represents a thick cross-cut of business and technical concerns. This concern for a very broad audience is both the boon and bane of the book. To paraphrase a common saying “you can’t please all of the people, all of the time”.

My opinion, for whatever its worth

“SOA Made simple”:

  • Maybe an ideal guide to SOA for a Chief Technology Officer (CTO), or Chief Information Officer (CIO), who is focused on learning enough to make sensible choices about setting a SOA strategy, and making investment decisions to control the spend on development (whether in-house or outsourced).
  • Is quite anodyne in its approach, with an unstated subtext of “it would be a good idea to ask a consultant to help you with this”. I think that is good, cool-headed advice for any CTO or CTO. Rather more impassioned advice and opinion is available from Steve Yegge. Check-out the links below, if you dare!
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