SOA also eases testing of massively complex applications, since a business process is distilled into component parts, and each part can function independently. Rather than sending data into a complex system, getting an incorrect result and being forced to wade through thousands of lines of code, an application built with an SOA philosophy allows rigorous testing of each small service—before they are strung together to complete a more complex transaction.
Gaining the maximum competitive advantage from SOA necessitates that once each service is built a corresponding repository inventories each service—what are its inputs and outputs and how it relates to other services. Building such a repository is as critical and likely as daunting a task as building the services themselves, however the return is immense. Understanding the array of services your company has built provides for easy reuse and when well-executed allows non-technical people to quickly grasp what a technically complex service accomplishes in business terms. Colleagues outside IT can now peruse the company’s inventory of services, and design new business applications without a long and painful formal IT project.
While SOA is deep in the midst of the hype portion of the hype cycle, understanding the fundamentals of designing systems around business processes, and ensuring that you keep a well documented inventory of those services will help your organization leverage SOA in the medium and long term.
Patrick Gray is the founder and president of Prevoyance Group, and author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology. Prevoyance Group provides strategic IT consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at [email protected].