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Service Oriented Architectures [SOA] play a pivotal role in today’s Enterprise Systems. Service orientation requires loose coupling of services with the underlying technologies. There is a lot Web Oriented Architectures gain by taking the SOA approach, especially with regard to aspects like scaling and being cloud ready.

I dont use SOA here to mean XML web services, but as a pattern for breaking down applications into distributed software components (which we call services). The components being independent units that deliver specific functionality. Data is encapsulated and made accessible only through well defined hardened interfaces. Consumers of the service are provided with a contract for the functionality provided through the interface. Hence, a clear isolation of functionality and data storage is achieved. The services manage all data internally and never provide direct database accesses. Whether access happens as XML/JSON or over REST/XML-RPC/SOAP is irrelevant for SOA. They form the various implementation options.

SOA also provides operational advantages in terms of the break down of the development work. First, small teams are created around problems. Next, the interfaces are decided and agreed upon. The teams then have full freedom in choosing tools, design methodologies, etc., as long as they provide the promised functionality through the interface. Developers in the team own end-to-end responsibilities for the service and are subjected to direct customer feedback. The heightened sense of responsibility also usually translates to better ownership of work. With hardened interfaces, localised issues and reduced integration efforts the net chaos in the system reduces significantly.

The parallel for SOA approach in the programming paradigm would be the Object Oriented Programming approach [OOPS]. Like OOPS, SOA is also vastly misunderstood. Most programmers fail to think Object Oriented-ly (esp the ones coming from the procedural world) and end up building poorly architected systems, while blaming OOPs for its clumsiness. Similar is the case with SOA.

We use SOA extensively in the systems we build at Althea. In my future posts I plan to provide more practical insights into SOA.

Hello world!
To all you programmers, coders, geeks & nerds out there :-).

Link to a “Hello World” program collection.