EA and SOA Revisited

There has been a lot of discussion recently on online forums, phone calls and visits with clients and prospects, and in the analyst community about the relationship between enterprise architecture and service-oriented architecture … again.

Three years ago EAdirections did a webinar with David Linthicum entitled “When EA and SOA Worlds Collide.”  (The presentation is available for download.)  I was recently asked to revisit that presentation with a client for one of their internal meetings as they just got internal approval to implement an ESB as part of their SOA strategy.  Based on the recent activity, both within and outside my own conversations, it seems that not a lot has changed in these three years.

We have always positioned SOA as one of the modes of architecture and development that an EA should include, but it is not the entirety of EA.  You are still going to have batch feeds and other non-service-oriented modes of systems integration and development.  While there has been an increase in the implementation of SOA and the maturity of EA functions, it seems as though the main disconnect that we pointed out in our webinar still exists – Multiple SOA projects going on without being part of an enterprise SOA plan.  There are a variety of different reasons for this, but to me, it boils down to the lack of an answer to 2 fundamental questions from a holistic perspective:  What services should we build?  Who will use them?

In order to answer this question, the scope of analysis must be not only beyond the project level, but beyond the IT perspective.  Enterprises need to have a better idea of how they are going to operate, where the opportunities for redundant service delivery are, and where integration should be implemented among its current and future business processes.  Business architecture is the key to figuring out the answers to these questions.

So I guess I misspoke (typed) earlier when I said nothing has changed.  There has been one very big change in the three years since we did that webinar – business architecture has left the realm of possibility and potential and is positioned to actually help some organizations be more successful with SOA, as well as other modes of architecture within the overall EA.