Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Trevor Parsons, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Torben Andersen, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: .NET, SYS-CON MEDIA

.NET: Article

i-Technology Viewpoint: "SOA Sucks"

"I don't think that all of our problems will be solved if we move in this direction as an industry."

From time to time, I find myself lassoing a sacred cow in this Editorial space, dragging it over to the slaughterhouse of rhetoric, and ultimately barbecuing its falsehood over the stainless-steel, six-burner, propane-powered grill of real-world experience. To wit, the current industry obsession with SOA as a panacea for every information system ill from performance to security is, in my humble opinion, a phenomenal load of crap.

Now, please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that there isn't a myriad of benefits to be derived from exposing systems' functionality for access by other automated systems simply by passing XML across industry-standard networking protocols such as HTTP and TCP. Web services are great! If you have to interoperate with non-Microsoft systems, they may be your only option. If you are building a system today and you suspect that some other system might want to tap into its functionality at some point in the future (hint: you can almost always safely assume that this will happen at some point), then you are wise to architect in a way that will lend itself to exposure via Web services.

What I do not buy into is the idea that all systems should be seen either as services that expose their functionality only via unidirectional XML messaging or as clients of such systems. Specifically, I don't think that all of our problems will be solved if we move in this direction as an industry, nor do I think that such an approach is without colossal problems of its own.

What problems have I seen at clients that have tried this? To begin with, the move to asynchronous system operations requires a massive change in thinking on the part of most developers. Having a separate Architect role on a team can offset a lot of this difficulty by allowing just one individual to orchestrate how a set of discrete, asynchronous services can be aggregated into various useful systems.

Versioning and reliability are two problems that are more tactical, and in some ways harder to resolve. If one considers the move from COM to .NET, for example, one of the major problems that .NET was intended to solve was the so-called "DLL Hell" versioning conflicts that were common in the days of COM. Many of these problems return with a vengeance when one begins to rely heavily upon external Web services, because a change in a Web service that is beneficial to one system may be quite detrimental to another system using that same Web service. Unlike .NET code that is run in process, there are no out-of-the-box standards and tools to help with the versioning of .NET Web services.

Finally, of course, are the eternal problems with all new technologies - unclear return on investment and quickly changing standards. These are the difficult questions that SOA must answer if it is to remain relevant in the computing environment of the early 21st century and beyond! As always, I welcome your feedback via e-mail to [email protected].

More Stories By Derek Ferguson

Derek Ferguson, founding editor and editor-in-chief of .Net Developer's Journal, is a noted technology expert and former Microsoft MVP.

Comments (10) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
jabailo 05/15/09 05:56:07 PM EDT

Wait...so you're criticsim of SOA is primarily that entrenched IT thinking and current locked mindsets can't comprehend it!

Simple answer: fire the laggards!

SOA is the right answer in so many ways.

However, the technology press doesn't get it because it's not proprietary, it doesn't have a single owner, you can't download it, you can't get a free t-shirt about it.

SOA is about good old fashion smart programming using the latest tools and technologies and eschewing all the Tinker-Toy "application servers" that have been foisted on us as the cure-all and yet sit there wasting server space.

I can build SOA with sendmail servers running on Debian messaging smtp.

I can build SOA with EJBs sending each other Jason strings.

I can use ticker files and the c# FileWatcher to notify automated execution of web services.

I can build a scheduling table on a database that organizes a set of tasks at destinations worldwide.

All of these things are SOA! And if you don't get it...you're SOL!

david 01/18/08 08:40:31 AM EST

face it without XML SOA wouldn't exist, and quite frankly XML sucks anyway -- ever look at all the documents that need to exist and be generated?

the XML community is on crack -- and the technology is out of control.

david 01/18/08 08:36:12 AM EST

why is the JRE backward compatible, but with MS you need every .NET framework to make sure everything is "interoperable"?

why should folks use an inferior model like MS .NET?

David deMilo 10/06/05 11:21:22 PM EDT

good article, dumb headline. Fire your editor.

Dan 10/06/05 02:30:34 PM EDT

First off I think it is interesting that you are smoking a technology that the very magazine you are writing for depends on. A bit amusing to me actually.

Second, although your article doesn't cause me major objection around web services. I do object to the continued misunderstanding of what SOA is trying to accomplish both in the vendor world as well as the business world. Everyone equates Web services as a 1-1 mapping to SOA, while most implementations end up this way it isn't the intent of the panacea as you stated in your article.

The intent of SOA is to start thinking of your business process and how all your systems are supporting those process whether they are distributed or not. A service doesn't necessarily mean that it is remote from the application or even a webservice. I can imagine within a batch process you have an NDM service that will provide a part of your business process.

The true intent and the best way to look at SOA is that it is an IT methodology shift from a silos of departments working on everything that every other department is working on to a specialized view of fulfilling an over all business function or infrastructure function which is needed from a holistic business architecture.

Now of course your point is about the clients you have worked with, which is why your article is skewed in the first right probably since you don't seem to have any meat on what SOA seems to accomplish from your standpoint.

I don't see SOA as an end all solution but it does help to establish a new way of thinking for business and IT which in the long-term will help to feed a more efficient organization if done right.

Thank you for your time in reading this feedback.

- Dan

Justin Fite 10/04/05 11:39:53 PM EDT

As with all "new" technologies, the good is over-hyped and the bad is conveniently underestimated. Derek you mentioned reliability problems, but did not elaborate. The act of creating functionality by linking together independant services will give business what they need: increase business flexibility, but with nasty side effects of unpredictability (thus hard to plan and support), much higher reliability risk (a giant AND condition of every service you request), and the urge for every business to convert many batch processes to dynamic processes. All of this will cause more complexity, higher infrastructure costs, and lower overall reliability. All because we continue to push all our execution through limited, expensive compute resources. The web has taught us the economics of deploying software to end users (scale out), yet we still execute our core business like we did decades ago (scale up), causing a choke point. Virtualize the application and the server so every service gets "it's own machine, it's own instance of the application" This would eliminate compute constraints...

George 09/30/05 06:20:12 PM EDT

On the second thought, you're right again. Not only SOA sucks. There are many things that Sun Microsystems has not bothered to fix for years.
Example: int java.sql.ResultSetMetaData.getColumnType(int)

Software engineering is not an exact science yet.

luke 09/28/05 02:46:29 PM EDT

I respectfully disagree as noted on my latest blog post.

George 09/27/05 05:54:18 AM EDT

You're right: Each made by Microsoft including 'DLL Hell' and many other is a phenomenal load of crap. Switch to Linux and forget MSFT.

archie 09/27/05 03:38:40 AM EDT

Well, we all know that SOA is still an infant, it cries a lot and does poo-poo all over the place, nevertheless it does show some potential. If you treat it as if it were an adult, you are very naive and in deep trouble.

The whole industry is behind this because for the first time in history, Microsoft has agreed to sort of cooperate with it's competitors in creating a framework for the future. They have actually agreed to compete without reserving for themselves the role of rule-maker, referee and lead player. They are *only* the 800lb gorilla in the playground. The only way this would work is if the technology itself is immature and over-hyped.

The funniest part of the article is the claim that WS is the only way of accessing non-Microsoft systems. WOW! Unix has supported all the distributed computing paradigms that have been invented by mankind in the last 30 years and these are myriad. There main weakness was that none of them were accepted by Microsoft. What SOA offers is exactly the opposite: the only way to include Microsoft systems in distributed computing scenarios and this is the main reason for our unreasoning support.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...