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This chapter is from the book

Decomposed Capability

How can a service be designed to minimize the chances of capability logic deconstruction?

Table 16.7. Profile summary for the Decomposed Capability pattern.


The decomposition of a service subsequent to its implementation can require the deconstruction of logic within capabilities, which can be disruptive and make the preservation of a service contract problematic.


Services prone to future decomposition can be equipped with a series of granular capabilities that more easily facilitate decomposition.


Additional service modeling is carried out to define granular, more easily distributed capabilities.


Until the service is eventually decomposed, it may be represented by a bloated contract that stays with it as long as proxy capabilities are supported.


Standardized Service Contract, Service Abstraction




Some types of services are more prone to being split after they have been developed and deployed. For example, entity services derive their functional context from corresponding business entities that are documented as part of common information architecture specifications. Often, an entity service context will initially be based around a larger, more significant business entity or even a group of related entities.

This can be adequate for immediate purposes but can eventually result in a number of challenges (Figure 16.23), including the following:

  • As the service is extended, many additional capabilities are added because they are all associated with its functional context, leading to a bulky functional boundary that is difficult to govern.
  • The service, due to increased popularity as a result of added capabilities or high reuse of individual capabilities, becomes a processing bottleneck.
Figure 16.23

Figure 16.23 An Invoice entity service (middle) derived from a group of Invoice-related business entities (left) exposes coarse-grained capabilities that are difficult to decompose when service decomposition requirements present themselves. Each of the affected Invoice service capabilities needs to be split up in order to accommodate the new services (right).

Despite a foreknowledge of these challenges, it may still not be possible to create a larger group of more granular services because of infrastructure constraints that restrict the size of potential service compositions. Sometimes an organization needs to wait until its infrastructure is upgraded or its vendor runtime platform matures to the point that it can support complex compositions with numerous participating services. In the meantime, however, the organization cannot afford to postpone the delivery of its services.


Services can be initially designed with future decomposition requirements in mind, which generally translates into the creation of more granular capabilities. With an entity service, for example, granular capabilities can be aligned better with individual business entities. This way, if the service needs to be decomposed in the future into a collection of services that represent individual business entities, the transition is facilitated by reducing the need to deconstruct capabilities (Figure 16.24).

Figure 16.24

Figure 16.24 The Invoice service (middle) derived from the same business entities (left) introduced in now exposes a series of more granular capabilities, several of which correspond directly to specific business entities. This increases the ease at which subsequent service decomposition can be accomplished. The decomposed services (right) are no longer in conflict because the capabilities affected by the decomposition are clearly mapped to the new services. Those same capabilities also remain in the Invoice service contract (top right) as per Proxy Capability (497).


This pattern introduces more up-front service modeling effort in order to determine the appropriate service capability definitions. Specifically, the following considerations need to be taken into account:

  • how the current functional scope can potentially be divided into two or more functional contexts
  • how capabilities can be defined for these new functional contexts

This modeling effort follows a process whereby a collection of service candidates are defined in association with the scope of the service in question. These service candidates represent future services that can result from a decomposition of the current service and therefore provide a basis for capability candidates to be defined in support of the decomposition.


The initial service contract that results from applying this pattern can be large and difficult to use. The increased capability granularity can impose performance overhead on service consumers that may be required to invoke the service multiple times to carry out a series of granular functions that could have been grouped together in a coarse-grained capability. This may lead to the need to apply Contract Denormalization (414), which will result in even more capabilities.

Even after the service has been decomposed, the existing consumers of the initial service may still need to be accommodated via proxy capabilities as per Proxy Capability (497), requiring the original service contract to remain for an indefinite period of time.

Also, it is sometimes difficult to predict how a service will be decomposed when initially defining it. There is the constant risk that the service will be populated with fine-grained capabilities that will never end up in other services and may have unnecessarily imposed performance burden upon consumers in the meantime.


The key relationship illustrated in Figure 16.25 is between Decomposed Capability and Service Decomposition (489) because this pattern is applied in advance with the foreknowledge that a service will likely need to be decomposed in the future. It can therefore also be viewed as a governance pattern in that its purpose is to minimize the impact of a service's evolution. For this same reason, it relates to Proxy Capability (497) that will usually end up being applied to one or more of the capabilities decomposed by this pattern.

Figure 16.25

Figure 16.25 Decomposed Capability prepares a service contract for eventual decomposition, making it closely related to patterns associated with Service Decomposition (489).

As already mentioned, the more fine-grained capabilities introduced by this pattern may require that Contract Denormalization (414) also be applied.

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