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There aren’t  many  successful or failed  SOA stories to share  since few have really managed to complete SOA adoption, but there are many enterprises that  have started  their journey in that field. As part of my work I have the opportunity to be part of several SOA journeys and although they are in the beginning  stages there are already several lessons that we’ve  learned.     In all the SOA engagements that I was part of, we realized (sooner or later and sooner is better) that without three major foundations the building that we’re trying to build will collapse.  Those foundations are CxO support in involvement, Semantics and  a  clear information ownership model.     CxO support and involvement  SOA isn’t just a technology or IT architecture, SOA is a change that impacts the entire enterprise. SOA adoption impacts the business domain of the enterprise, as well as the information, application and technology domains. IT reflects business needs therefore if the business won’t adopt services as a concept to run the business on, SOA adoption will be a failure. Business changes demand not  only  CxO support but also CxO involvement in this process. Without direct support and involvement of the CxO level, don’t even try to start your SOA journey.     Semantics  Semantics are essential for SOA. Without business and information semantics it will be impossible to create a SOA implementation. If your enterprise hasn’t any semantic model of the business and the information you won ‘ t have the basics to create services that supply business functions by using information as input and outputs. You  will just have the foundation to build another Babylon tower. Creating semantic models might look obvious and simple but most enterprises don’t have one semantic model for business and information that (at least) most of the enterprise business units accept. Furthermore it is  a  complex and tedious process to build semantic models  and support around  them . I believe that without a framework or proven methodology this task  gets even harder to accomplish. Whether it’s complex or not ,  without  a clear and supported semantic model you’ll find yourself in a dead-end  one way or another.     Clear information ownership model   Information is the core component with SOA.  At  the end of the day services reflect business capabilities that manipulate data. Most of the IT problems in the enterprise usually derive from situations where information is managed by two or more business units or is just an asset of one business unit. If we want to build true SOA implementation, Information ownership should be explicit and approved by all parties in the enterprise. Services are about manipulating data and transfering  the results to prevent data silos and data duplications. Without agreements about information ownership we won’t be able to fix the root  causes of the problems, therefore the problems will  appear and surface in the course of our work.
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  1. Christopher Solomon
    Just reading around blogs and forums here and so forth, I think “we” (the techie side of the house) seem to view SOA from our comfort zone.  SOA to us seems pretty straight forward….it just makes plain, clear sense from a technical standpoint. However, putting it into practice and the larger change(s) that must occur is something a lot of techies don’t seem to grasp. The technology isn’t really much of the struggle…it’s the large change in the business that is the largest hurdle. I read a great article in CIO magazine (The Four Stages of Enterprise Architecture – DECEMBER 1, 2006 *) that made it all finally “click” for me as to why I hear a lot about SOA but don’t see a lot in action. The article put the SOA transition into 4 very clear steps…and as they explained it very well…each step must occur in order…although the length of some steps may be shortened, no steps can be skipped. The entire journey/process really makes a company look inward at it’s processes, people, policies and technology…that is why a transition to SOA does not happen overnight.

    (* http://www.cio.com/archive/120106/fea_mit.html )

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