Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: John Basso, Pat Romanski, Glenn Rossman, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud, SYS-CON MEDIA

Microsoft Cloud: 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
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it ...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Yahoo's operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. Yahoo informs, connects and entertains a global audience of more than 1 billion monthly active users** -- including 600 million monthly active mobile users*** through its search, communications and digital content products. Yahoo also co...
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.