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3.3 Effects of Service-Orientation on the Enterprise

There are good reasons to have high expectations from the service-orientation paradigm. But, at the same time, there is much to learn and understand before it can be successfully applied. The following sections explore some of the more common examples.

Service-Orientation and the Concept of “Application”

Having just stated that reuse is not an absolute requirement, it is important to acknowledge the fact that service-orientation does place an unprecedented emphasis on reuse. By establishing a service inventory with a high percentage of reusable and agnostic services, we are now positioning those services as the primary (or only) means by which the solution logic they represent can and should be accessed.

As a result, we make a very deliberate move away from the silos in which applications previously existed. Because we want to share reusable logic whenever possible, we automate existing, new, and augmented business processes through service composition. This results in a shift where more and more business requirements are fulfilled not by building or extending applications, but by simply composing existing services into new composition configurations.

When compositions become more common, the traditional concept of an application or a system or a solution actually begins to fade, along with the silos that contain them. Applications no longer consist of self-contained bodies of programming logic responsible for automating a specific set of tasks (Figure 3.21). What was an application is now just another composition of services, some of which likely participate in other compositions (Figure 3.22).

Figure 3.21

Figure 3.21 The traditional application, delivered to automate specific business process logic.

Figure 3.22

Figure 3.22 The service composition, intended to fulfill the role of the traditional application by leveraging agnostic and non-agnostic services from a service inventory. This essentially establishes a “composite application.”

The application therefore loses its individuality. One could argue that a service-oriented application actually does not exist because it is, in fact, just one of many service compositions. However, upon closer reflection, we can see that some of our services (based on the service models established in Chapter 5) are actually not business process agnostic. One service, for example, intentionally represents logic that is dedicated to the automation of just one business task, and therefore not necessarily reusable.

So, single-purpose services can still be associated with the notion of an application. However, within service-oriented computing, the meaning of this term can change to reflect the fact that a potentially large portion of the application logic is no longer exclusive to the application.

Service-Orientation and the Concept of “Integration”

When we revisit the idea of a service inventory consisting of services that have, as per our service-orientation principles, been shaped into standardized and (for the most part) reusable units of solution logic, we can see that this will challenge the traditional perception of “integration.”

In the past, integrating something implied connecting two or more applications or programs that may or may not have been compatible (Figure 3.23). Perhaps they were based on different technology platforms or maybe they were never designed to connect with anything outside of their own internal boundary. The increasing need to hook up disparate pieces of software to establish a reliable level of data exchange is what turned integration into an important, high profile part of the IT industry.

Figure 3.23

Figure 3.23 The traditional integration architecture, comprised of two or more applications connected in different ways to fulfill a new set of automation requirements (as dictated by the new Business Process G).

Services designed to be “intrinsically interoperable” are built with the full awareness that they will need to interact with a potentially large range of service consumers, most of which will be unknown at the time of their initial delivery. If a significant part of our enterprise solution logic is represented by an inventory of intrinsically interoperable services, it empowers us with the freedom to mix and match these services into infinite composition configurations to fulfill whatever automation requirements come our way.

As a result, the concept of integration begins to fade. Exchanging data between different units of solution logic becomes a natural and secondary design characteristic (Figure 3.24). Again, though, this is something that can only transpire when a substantial percentage of an organization’s solution logic is represented by a quality service inventory. While working toward achieving this environment, there will likely be many requirements for traditional integration between existing legacy systems but also between legacy systems and these services.

Figure 3.24

Figure 3.24 A new combination of services is composed together to fulfill the role of traditional integrated applications.

The Service Composition

Applications, integrated applications, solutions, systems—all of these terms and what they have traditionally represented can be directly associated with the service composition (Figure 3.25). As SOA transition initiatives continue to progress within an enterprise, it can be helpful to make a clear distinction between a traditional application (one which may reside alongside an SOA implementation or which may be actually encapsulated by a service) and the service compositions that eventually become more commonplace.

Figure 3.25

Figure 3.25 A service-oriented solution, application, or system is the equivalent of a service composition.

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