Enterprise Architecture and SOA: Two Tribes

If SOA can be integrated into these frameworks then enterprise architects will be able to use it as an extension of their traditional methods. But how easy is it for traditional enterprise architecture frameworks to do this? Must they undergo an evolution or a revolution?

This question has been explored by The Open Group. Its conclusions, in the recently published Open Group White Paper on Service-Oriented Architecture, are that SOA is an evolution of traditional architectural styles, not a revolution, and that SOA can be integrated into traditional architecture frameworks. The paper outlines how SOA relates to TOGAF, and a project is under way in The Open Group to develop detailed practical guidance for enterprise architects on how to use TOGAF for SOA.

The Way Forward

SOA implies important changes to the way that the architecture process is applied, but does not imply a change to the process itself. The changes from traditional styles of enterprise architecture are significant, but SOA remains a style within enterprise architecture, it does not break the mould.

The value of SOA is established, but its take-up is limited by the ability of enterprise architects to deploy it in a normal and routine manner. Integration of SOA into architectural frameworks will be a major factor in removing that limitation. But this requires cooperation between the “two tribes”, the traditional architects and the proponents of SOA, who must rise above their recent history of misunderstanding.

SOA enthusiasts and traditional enterprise architects are now working together in the Open Group to develop SOA as a part of Enterprise Architecture. This is part of a wider convergence of these apparently separate worlds in standards bodies and consortia generally, and in the enterprise.

SOA is an evolution of enterprise architecture practice, but it is delivering a revolution in enterprise agility and Boundaryless Information Flow. By working together, the proponents of SOA and the traditional enterprise architecture community can smooth the evolution of the practice, and help SOA deliver its revolution, so that the organizations that use SOA can deliver better business value.

Chris Harding leads the SOA Working Group at The Open Group, an open forum of customers and suppliers of IT products and services. In addition, he is a director of UDEF Forum, and manages The Open Group’s work on semantic interoperability. He can be contacted at [email protected].