by Stephen Bennett of Oracle
Confronted with the age old problems of agility and complexity, today’s CIOs are under more pressure than ever to improve the strategic value of IT to the business. At best, these challenges have increased costs, limited innovation and increased risk. At worst, they have reduced IT’s ability to respond to changing business needs in a timely fashion.
Yet, changes for business and IT are continuing to occur at an ever-increasing pace. To keep up, enterprises need to adopt an agile, flexible architecture style with a proven strategic approach to delivering IT to the business.
Over the last year, I have seen a resurgence of CIOs using enterprise architecture (EA) as a key tool to address these challenges. In the past, EA has experienced difficulties within the enterprise. It has been unfairly seen as primarily a documentation exercise and, when applied incorrectly, EA can -- ironically -- become a silo in of itself. To make sure that EA has better success this time, CIOs must make their EA efforts more actionable.
Service oriented architecture (SOA) has been positioned as an architectural style specifically intended to reduce costs, increase agility and, most importantly, simplify the business and the interoperation of different parts of that business.
A key principle of SOA is the structuring of business capabilities into meaningful, granular services as opposed to opaque and siloed business functions. This makes it possible to quickly identify and reuse any existing realized functional capabilities, thus avoiding the duplication of similar capabilities across the organization. By standardizing the behavior and interoperation of these services, it’s possible to limit the impacts of change and to forecast the likely chain of impacts.
Despite its popularity, relatively few enterprises have been able to measure and demonstrate the value of SOA. This is due primarily to the approach that enterprises have taken when adopting and applying SOA. In most cases, enterprises interpret SOA as simply another solution development approach. As a result, SOA has been relegated or wrongly positioned as a purely integration technology, rather than the strategic enabler that it can be.
Because of this, SOA must not be seen as a solution development approach that starts and ends once a solution is delivered. It must be seen as an on-going process that, when coupled with a strategic framework, can change and evolve with the business over time. Unfortunately, many enterprises adopt SOA without utilizing a strategic framework, causing a host of challenges for their business.
Just a few of the challenges I have seen include:
It’s no wonder that SOA has a bad reputation.
To address these challenges, enterprises utilizing or considering adopting SOA must align it with an EA framework that elevates the importance of the needs of the enterprise rather than only considering the requirements of individual projects.
Now used by 80 percent of the Fortune Global 50, TOGAF, an Open Group standard, is an architecture framework that contains a detailed method and set of supporting resources for developing an EA. As a comprehensive, open method for EA, TOGAF v9 complements and can be used in conjunction with other frameworks that are more focused on specific aspects of architecture, such as MDA and ITIL.
The Open Group’s new guide,Using TOGAF to Define and Govern Service-Oriented Architectures aims to facilitate common understanding of the development of SOA while offering a phased approach to maximizing its business impact based on the popular TOGAF methodology. Let’s take a look at the main takeaways from the guide:
Organization readiness - An enterprise first needs to adopt the principle of service-orientation. However, successful SOA depends on the readiness of the enterprise to become service-oriented. To get started with SOA, the guide recommends conducting a maturity assessment. Such an assessment is available from The Open Group and enables a practitioner to assess an organization’s SOA maturity level and define a roadmap for incremental adoption to maximize business benefits at each stage along the way.