Fine, SOA may not be a City. What about a religion?

Rob Eamon has offered some compelling, well cited arguments (corrections?) in regards to a previous post of mine describing the image of SOA as a city/society that I selected from among various alternatives to use as a mental model. See the comments of that post for a full record of his take on things.

I can’t help but wonder, though, assuming his understanding is the original understanding, that the original “scope independent” definition he has laid out for the term SOA is mutating or fracturing into a different meaning, or more probably collection of meanings, as the concept is becoming more and more mainstream. Perhaps the mutation, if is real, is fueled by relative “laymen” from such out of the way places as the SMB (such as myself) as we attempt to understand SOA and become practitioners, which perhaps wasn’t common until more recently.

Or perhaps I say that entirely defensively, not wanting to believe I could have missed the mark by such a large margin.

In any case, I certainly have no other option than to concede that I was incorrect in my naive belief that I had found for myself a way of thinking about SOA that, at least in a purely conceptual fashion, could exist at an abstract level above all the tumultuous debate.

Perhaps believing in an image of SOA that encompasses all possible schools is as foolish as believing in an image of god that includes all other religions. I never get used to how much technology feels like religion to me at times.

Maybe things would be more straightforward for everyone if there were named schools of thought one could subscribe to, and then it wouldn’t be so tempting to say “This, well THIS is SOA, and that, well that is something that may resemble SOA(maybe), but in fact it is nothing of the sort.” Rather I could just say “I am a Soascopist” and you could say “I am a Soastylist” and, like religion, an argument about which is right would inevitably continue to rage. But, when the uninitiated like myself walk into a room of people shouting different definitions over each others heads, we would clearly know we needed to pick a school, learn the dogma and start shouting back, or we could state ourselves as agnostics, but we would be less inclined to try and synthesize the “truth” from all of the various contradictory opinions, which turns out to be a rather futile effort.

Then, when the holy war breaks out (and perhaps it already has), the SoaScopists, the SoaStylists and all other various sects of Soaists will take up arms together beneath a common standard and ally themselves against the RPCists. Gifted with superior agility, close strategic and financial alignment with the emperor, and extraordinarily loose coupling, the Soasists will relegate RPC to the level of an outcast technology, kept on life support on the outskirts of the kingdom via a flimsy service adapter, until some data center technician coldly pulls the plug, changes a value in a routing table, and the lights go out for good.

Of course, however it shakes out, we’ll still always prostate ourselves before the dollar, one way or another.


(BTW, the holy war is just a joke, not my new personal metaphor for the relationship between SOA and RPC)

5 Responses to “Fine, SOA may not be a City. What about a religion?”

  1. SOA, ESBs and JBOWS, oh my! « HSI Developer Blog Says:

    […] anyway, this may or may not resemble what people mean when they talk about SOA, but it is what I have managed to glean, academically speaking, from all the shrapnel that is […]

  2. Rob Eamon Says:

    (Have had trouble leaving a comment. Apologies if this is a duplicate.)

    “…assuming his understanding is the original understanding, that the original “scope independent” definition he has laid out for the term SOA.”

    The original Gartner-defined scope was SOA as an application architecture. Other analysts, most notably Anne Thomas Manes ( of Burton Group, scope SOA similarly to your view–at the enterprise level only. I’ve been promoting a scope-neutral view of SO since various people and groups want to use the SOA term at different levels.

    Indeed, I wouldn’t mind if the term SOA simply disappeared!

    Like you, I long for an unambiguous and clear definition of SOA that is widely accepted. Alas, such a monster does not exist and so when someone mentions the term SOA, it is the wise analyst that asks them exactly how *they* define it, at what level of scope, etc.

  3. Nathan Says:

    It was in the spam filter. Wonder why?

  4. Nathan Says:

    Probably not a problem limited to SOA – I imagine OOP went through similar pains. I feel for all those misunderstood acronyms, especially once they fall into the hands of the marketers and have their meaning and lifeforce sucked right out of them. Eventually the marketers tire of them, and then, slowly, they become real again.

  5. Beginner’s Mind « HSI Developer Blog Says:

    […] others are cheap decoys, yadda yadda. This part of the culture is best served by the religion metapFine, SOA may not be a City. What about a religion?hor, though, and there is no avoiding the phenomenon: humans are extremely religious creatures and […]

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