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SOA Expert and Change Architect Marc Rix Joins SOAWorld 2007 West Speaker Faculty

Rix Explains How to Ruin a SOA Program and Bankrupt IT

Change architect Marc Rix, popular conference speaker and currently an Enterprise Architect at SAIC, is the latest SOA luminary to join the Speaker Faculty for SOAWorld Conference & Expo 2007 West, being held in San Francisco 11-12 November, 2007, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Rix, who has been building enterprise-scale integration solutions for the past 10 years,  has focused in recent years on accelerating key business activities through SOA and BPM. 

His aim at SOAWorld 2007 West will be to leave the audience with a firm understanding of how SOA, when executed properly, can dramatically reduce IT. A foretaste of his line of thinking can be found on his excellent ChaoticIT blog, where he recently wrote a highly insightful post called "How to Ruin a SOA Program and Bankrupt IT."

In the post Rix addresses the question of whether simply choosing SOA over point-to-point (P2P) integration is enough to achieve business agility.

As Rix explained in a recent article in SOAWorld Magazine, a fundamental characteristic of SOA is its linear cost curve and contrasted it with P2P's non-linear cost curve.

"The 'bottom line' is that SOA inherently keeps costs linear, predictable, and scalable over the long haul while the cost of P2P accelerates uncontrollably," Rix contends. "The net effect is that service-oriented networks are enterprise assets that appreciate in value as they grow, while P2P networks are depreciating liabilities. SOA, by its nature, produces positive ROI. P2P, by its nature, produces negative ROI."

He then continued in his characteristically engaging style:

"Therefore, if you embrace SOA and forsake P2P you should be set, right? Wrong.

To be sure, taking a stand against traditional P2P integration is a big leap in the right direction. However, it is one thing to say you are service-oriented and quite another to be service-oriented. And if you're talking the talk but not walking the walk you can end up in worse shape than if you had opted against SOA in the first place.

SOA often requires a paradigm shift -- a shift in attitudes and thinking away from project-based, short-term objectives toward enterprise-based, long-term objectives. When the people doing the talking are not the ones doing the walking, the mental shift may not occur everywhere it needs to. This can produce a situation where an organization has obtained sponsorship and funding for an SOA program but lacks the discipline to adhere to its core principles during implementation. When SOA has been promised but the implementers are only comfortable with P2P, the result is often point-based SOA.


From a financial standpoint, point-based SOA combines the short-term cost hikes of SOA with the long-term, accelerating cost accumulation of P2P. What is left is an overly complex network of tightly-coupled services linked together through physical connections and proprietary interfaces. (Imagine a network of web services in which each service can be used by only one consumer.)

Relating this phenomenon back to the Bottom Line analysis, the resulting cost curve (P-SOA) resembles the P2P cost curve. The only difference is that it has been shifted upward by a coefficient that represents the extra infrastructure costs of SOA. In the end, point-based SOA costs more than traditional P2P integration and yields no gain in IT flexibility or agility.

IT organizations that are adept at selling SOA at the podium need to also have the tactical ability to execute on SOA missions. This requires shared vision, passion, and deep commitment to the fundamental principles of SOA at all levels of the IT ranks. Companies that have difficulty producing this cultural unity are at a distinct disadvantage in ever realizing the benefits of SOA. In fact, they may be better off just ignoring the hype and walking away."

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SOA World Magazine News Desk trawls the world of distributed computing and SOA-related developments for the latest word on technologies, standards, products, and services and brings key information to you in a timely and convenient summary form.

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