It sometimes seems like every company in the world, of any size or industry, must have heard of service-oriented architecture (SOA). It constantly appears in IT press, analyst and vendor marketing materials, every trade show appears to make at least a passing reference to it, and there is a steady stream of firms prepared to stand up in public to declare their own successes with it. What is more, unlike many IT initiatives, SOA even crosses the boundary between IT and business disciplines, with business executives attracted to the improved IT alignment with business objectives that it offers, from the ability to manipulate IT-basked business processes directly to the improved visibility of business performance delivered by the operational IT systems.
However, not all companies are in a position to take on the considerable challenges of full-scale SOA-based transformation. Many companies find themselves held back by funding and resource restrictions combined with a lack of knowledge and maturity in SOA activities such as process modelling and re-engineering. These companies tend to be locked into a highly pragmatic mode of operations, with every dollar of investment linked to a tactically driven return. But the value of SOA need not be lost to these companies. A new approach to delivering pragmatic, SOA-based value has evolved, combining some of the best features of SOA with event-driven principles – message-driven SOA.
Message-driven SOA has its roots in the ongoing requirement many companies have to improve integration across different business disciplines and systems, but by bringing in aspects of SOA it offers an easier and more cost-effective response to this need while providing additional SOA benefits such as faster time to market and improved business visibility of operations. At the same time, message-driven SOA offers a tactical response to immediate needs that also remains consistent with the longer-term strategic goals of full SOA adoption.
Message-driven SOA aims to provide a subset of SOA functionality that is simple and yet effective. It may not be for everyone, but it certainly provides an important option for companies struggling to get onto the SOA path.