Information vs Services

I usually find myself nodding at the views of the esteemed David Linthicum,

but in the case of his recent post on information vs services, I’m a little hesitant to burst into rapturous applause. I think there is a danger here of causing more rather than less confusion.

The contention was that people get information and services confused, and that the ability to expose information through services is different to service-orientation. The basis of this claim is apparently that service-orientation is about sharing information and the behaviour bound to it rather than just information.

It seems to me a lot of SOA services are about presenting information to the end-user – for example a web service to query a bank account, or get customer details. The fact that they deliver information does not disqualify them from being accepted as valid in an SOA implementation. So is this a case of sharing information and behaviour? Well, a pedant might say so, but just getting an account balance is not what most people mean when they talk about system or services behaviour. I think ‘behaviour’ usually has implications of the application of business rules, policies and procedures. So a service to ask for a loan approval for a client might call a service to get the account balance, and if the loan amount is less than a certain multiple of the balance, the approval might be given automatically; if it is greater than this limit, however, another service would be called to obtain supervisory approval or carry out a more detailed risk assessment. Perhaps David’s concerns are more about an application that just does a remote data request – this is not the same thing at all as a reusable service, and I would agree this has no roll in service orientation.

My conclusion is that services that generate information can be just as much services as ones that have a wider business behaviour aspect. The real question is whether the service is performing a piece of business service functionality.


Posted in Imported, SOA.

One Comment

  1. Services do not carry too much added value in themselves when there is no information attached which means data from a computer perspective. I am really disturbed by the way IT people discuss about SOA and how they approach the definition of service and its understanding. Even when behaviour is at stake it still carry information otherwise, what’s the use.
    From my readings and according to my understanding, it seems that the only IT company that has a real understanding of the SOA issue is MICROSOFT. IBM came next but it was not to long ago as I did approach them several times on the subject in the past two years.
    So it’s not Information vs Services, it’s Information and Services, Information come first, Services come next once you figure out what to do with the information you need. SOA is not a programming game. It is really an IT paradigm that require an holistic view of what an Enterprise Information System is and how each of its constructs can be “ideally” adressed and aligned.

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