Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Glenn Rossman, Janakiram MSV, Steven Mandel

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridharabalan, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, Inc., will focus on key challenges in building an Internet of Things solution infrastructure. He will shed light on efficient ways of defining interactions within IoT solutions, leading to cost and time reduction. He will also introduce ways to handle data and how one can develop IoT solutions that are lean, flexible and configurable, thus making IoT infrastructure agile and scalable.
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...