Welcome!

.NET Authors: Lori MacVittie, Yeshim Deniz, Ivan Antsipau, Liz McMillan, Michael Bushong

Related Topics: .NET, SYS-CON MEDIA

.NET: 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
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
There will be 50 billion Internet connected devices by 2020. Today, every manufacturer has a propriety protocol and an app. How do we securely integrate these "things" into our lives and businesses in a way that we can easily control and manage? Even better, how do we integrate these "things" so that they control and manage each other so our lives become more convenient or our businesses become more profitable and/or safe? We have heard that the best interface is no interface. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Co-Founder & CTO at Octoblu, Inc., will discuss how these devices generate enough data to learn our behaviors and simplify/improve our lives. What if we could connect everything to everything? I'm not only talking about connecting things to things but also systems, cloud services, and people. Add in a little machine learning and artificial intelligence and now we have something interesting...
Last week, while in San Francisco, I used the Uber app and service four times. All four experiences were great, although one of the drivers stopped for 30 seconds and then left as I was walking up to the car. He must have realized I was a blogger. None the less, the next car was just a minute away and I suffered no pain. In this article, my colleague, Ved Sen, Global Head, Advisory Services Social, Mobile and Sensors at Cognizant shares his experiences and insights.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) irreversibly encoded. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, will look at how this identity problem can be solved and discuss ways to use existing web identities for real-time communication.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT. Attendees will learn real-world benefits of WebRTC and explore future possibilities, as WebRTC and IoT intersect to improve customer service.
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, will share some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, an Open Source Cloud Communications company that helps the shift from legacy IN/SS7 telco networks to IP-based cloud comms. An early investor in multiple start-ups, he still finds time to code for his companies and contribute to open source projects.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to create new business models as significant as those that were inspired by the Internet and the smartphone 20 and 10 years ago. What business, social and practical implications will this phenomenon bring? That's the subject of "Monetizing the Internet of Things: Perspectives from the Front Lines," an e-book released today and available free of charge from Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue management.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, to discuss how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Erik Lagerway, Co-founder of Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services to the modern P2P RTC era of OTT cloud assisted services.
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehension and conference efficiency.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, will discuss single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example to explain some of these concepts including when to use different storage models.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace. These technological reforms have not only changed computers and smartphones, but are also changing the data processing model for all information devices. In particular, in the area known as M2M (Machine-To-Machine), there are great expectations that information with a new type of value can be produced using a variety of devices and sensors saving/sharing data via the network and through large-scale cloud-type data processing. This consortium believes that attaching a huge number of devic...
Innodisk is a service-driven provider of industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products and technologies, with a focus on the enterprise, industrial, aerospace, and defense industries. Innodisk is dedicated to serving their customers and business partners. Quality is vitally important when it comes to industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products. That’s why Innodisk manufactures all of their products in their own purpose-built memory production facility. In fact, they designed and built their production center to maximize manufacturing efficiency and guarantee the highest quality of our products.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. Over the summer Gartner released its much anticipated annual Hype Cycle report and the big news is that Internet of Things has now replaced Big Data as the most hyped technology. Indeed, we're hearing more and more about this fascinating new technological paradigm. Every other IT news item seems to be about IoT and its implications on the future of digital business.
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
With the iCloud scandal seemingly in its past, Apple announced new iPhones, updates to iPad and MacBook as well as news on OSX Yosemite. Although consumers will have to wait to get their hands on some of that new stuff, what they can get is the latest release of iOS 8 that Apple made available for most in-market iPhones and iPads. Originally announced at WWDC (Apple’s annual developers conference) in June, iOS 8 seems to spearhead Apple’s newfound focus upon greater integration of their products into everyday tasks, cross-platform mobility and self-monitoring. Before you update your device, here is a look at some of the new features and things you may want to consider from a mobile security perspective.