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Related Topics: Java EE Journal, SOA Best Practices Digest, SOA & WOA Magazine

J2EE Journal: Article

SOA Antipatterns

The obstacles to the adoption and successful realization of Service-Oriented Architecture

Approach to identifying SOA antipatterns
SOA antipatterns were identified using the following approach:

  • Surveyed literature for published antipatterns
  • Documented antipatterns discovered by the authors on engagements in client meetings
  • Surveyed SOA CoE and CoP members for antipatterns identified from their experiences
  • Used recognized antipatterns template/language
  • Antipatterns included in this presentation have been agreed upon by the three authors
Antipatterns template/language
The antipatterns are described using the following template / language:
  • Name: A succinct name to convey the essence of the antipattern
  • Problem / Bad solution: The commonly occurring mistake or bad solution that relates to the antipattern
  • Symptoms : The indications or signs of the problem
  • Consequences: The results of applying this antipattern
  • Root cause: This provides the context for the antipattern, that is, where a pattern was applied incorrectly and resulting in a problem or failed solution
  • Suggested solution(s): Refactored solution that solves the problem and ensures more benefits
SOA antipatterns
The identified antipatterns are classified into three categories:

1.  SOA Adoption antipatterns: These are antipatterns that hinder or delay SOA adoption by customers and businesses. Antipatterns discussed in this category are:

  • A1. Technology Bandwagon
  • A2. So, What's New?
  • A3. The Big Bang
2.  Service identification & design antipatterns: These are antipatterns encountered while practitioners work on identifying and designing services as part of a SOA initiative. Antipatterns discussed in this category are:
  • I1. Web service = SOA
  • I2. The Silo Approach
  • I3. Misbehaving Registries
3.  Service realization antipatterns: These antipatterns capture worst practices for realizing services. Many of these antipatterns are focused on Web services implementation; the most common realization of SOA. In this paper we identified a partial list of SOA realization antipatterns that are not focused on Web services since such antipatterns are better discussed in a forum devoted to Web services. Antipatterns discussed in this category are:
  • R1. Chatty Services
  • R2. Point-to-point Services
  • R3. Component-less Services
As SOA matures and more engagements are conducted it is expected that more antipatterns will be identified (see Table 3).

SOA adoption antipatterns
These are antipatterns that hinder or delay SOA adoption by customers and businesses.

Antipattern name: Technology bandwidth (see also : Web service = SOA)

  • Problem: We observed that many corporations embark on a SOA effort leading from an IT perspective instead of a Business one. Implementations might be technically feasible and sometimes successful, but the impact on the business may not be realized since it was never considered in the first place.
  • Context: This antipattern is mostly observed in large corporations with well established IT departments that employ highly technical staff supported by strong and influential technically oriented leadership.
  • Symptoms: A common symptom of this antipattern is the inability of the sponsors to articulate the value proposition of SOA adoption. Also, lack of business alignment with the projects targeted for SOA implementation could be another symptom.
  • Consequences: As a result of this antipattern, the cost of IT rises without realizing any return on investment (ROI). In addition, the corporation may lose the opportunity to infuse flexibility into the IT portfolio.
  • Root Cause: In most cases, the root cause of this antipattern stems from the pressure on a corporation to match or keep up with announcements from competitors who may claim leadership through the adoption of this technology. As a result, the corporation might find it easier to dive into a technology-based effort to adopt SOA without taking the time and the effort to align it with the business needs.
  • Solution: The best approach to deal with this antipattern is to establish hype-free SOA value propositions which can be accomplished by identifying and describing how SOA addresses client-specific pain points or business challenges. This approach can be complemented by the development of a roadmap for proper introduction of technology in support of the business.
  • Solution example: Develop a SOA platform based on hype-free SOA value propositions
A global car rental company understood the value propositions of a SOA solution that would support its key business drivers:
  • Provide a flexible business model to increase speed and flexibility in delivering new business services
  • Drive down costs by streamlining processes to reduce operating costs
  • Reduce cycle time and costs for external business processes by providing first-to-market innovative services for its customers
  • Integrate across the enterprise by enabling easy and flexible integration to support multiple delivery channels
A2: Antipattern name: So, What's New?
  • Problem: This antipattern describes a situation where skeptics in a corporation claim that SOA is just a name for same old techniques and that SOA doesn't offer any thing new that they haven't been doing already. On the surface, that may appear to be so, but the emergence of Web services and XML, amongst other related standards is a major differentiator of what was done compared to what can be done with the appropriate implementation of SOA.
  • Context: This antipattern is mostly adopted by IT personnel who are comfortable with the technology they have been using for an extended period of time and are reluctant to introduce or consider changes. It also appears in situations where IT departments have gone through a painful technology transformation or that the new technology didn't live up to its hype.
  • Symptoms: The most obvious symptom is the strong opposition of some technical managers in a corporation to consider SOA as a serious approach to address legitimate business problems. The opposition could be in the form of strong and explicit arguments against the adoption of SOA, or it could be implicit and passive by ignoring SOA altogether while discussing approaches to solutions for business problems.
  • Consequences: This antipattern most likely will foster lack of support for SOA that will result in missed opportunities to realize the SOA value propositions that will support business pain points.
  • Root Cause: Though SOA builds on the same principles introduced and supported by other computing paradigms (for example, Object-Oriented and Component Based Development), many experienced IT teams lack real understanding of the differences between SOA and these other computing paradigms. This lack of understanding is one of the basic root causes of this antipattern. Another root cause is a direct consequence of IT teams having had bad experiences in implementing too many "Paradigm Shifts" and as such they are not willing to try a new one.
  • Solution: One way to deal with this antipattern is to emphasize how SOA is different from earlier solutions. For example, the differences between an APIs and Services should be explored, and dependency on Open Standards and their differentiating attributes should be explained. Another major differentiator is the emergence of the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) as an essential component of SOA. The facilities provided by an ESB such as Transport Services, Mediation Services, and Event Services, are examples of new capabilities made available by adopting SOA. However, the most effective solution is to provide successful examples that will highlight the differences and demonstrate the success and feasibility of implementing a SOA solution.
  • Solution Example: SOA Education Educate both business and IT on what SOA is, its value propositions and the benefits it provides to deliver IT flexibility that is required to support business goals. Provide an understanding of the importance of the Web services and XML standards and emerging standards in the implementation of SOA that distinguishes it from past paradigm shifts.

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