The intent of this blog is follow the trials and tribulations that I and several my associates at Chariot Solutions (Rod Biresch and Tom Purcell) come across as we implement an SOA solution. We all have experience in the realm of integration, and as the buzz around SOA has increased, so has our interest and understanding of what SOA is (and can be) for an organization.
Granted, SOA doesn't have one definition, but we believe at its core it consists of loosely coupled business services that become the building blocks for higher level business processes. How Business Services are defined, and how an organization can combine them into composite applications is where the challenge exists. If you look at any SOA product vendors web site, according to them all you have to do is just use their products, drag and drop some icons, click deploy, and wow....a business process has been implemented. If you download any vendors product suite and go through their tutorials, their story seems to hold water. Of course, how many organizations need a Hello World SOA application? Seriously, the tutorials are nice, but they barely scratch the surface of the challenges that you can encounter when trying to migrate towards an SOA.
So, being pragmatists, we don't believe that it is so "easy" to create a Service Oriented Architecture within in an existing enterprise. We do know the benefits of moving towards an SOA, but it is hard to find the facts around the issues encountered along the way. So what we have decided to do is take an existing enterprise, with systems that cannot be modified in any significant way, and combine them to implement a business process, documenting our issues along the way. The assumption here is that the business has already committed to moving to an SOA and a top down approach to defining business processes has already occurred. We are just going to implement one of these business processes (and service enable the applications to support it along the way).
I have chosen to use Cape Clear's ESB product to implement our business process. In subsequent posts, I will not only discuss the challenges encountered using this product, but also in migrating our stove piped enterprise towards an SOA.