Monthly Archives: June 2009

Information vs Behaviour

I read a couple of chapters of two different books recently:

  • Ch.5 of O’Reilly’s “Beautiful Architecture“: Resource-Oriented Architectures: Being ‘In The Web’ by Brian Sletten
  • Ch.1 of Manning’s “SOA Patterns“: Solving SOA Pains With Patterns by Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz, Eric Bruno, and Udi Dahan (from a free online Early Access Program)
In these chapters, there were points made that stood out for me and underlined the fact that the two approaches of Resource Oriented Architecture (ROA) and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) are mostly diametrically opposed, along the axes of information and behaviour.
I’ve been saying for a while, and indeed recently, that the data in an enterprise is a key asset of any corporation, and should be treated as such. Information should be secure, available, and above all addressable. As Brian says:
“We like giving names to things because we are fundamentally name-oriented beings”
Information elements should be first class citizens on the web, not relegated to anonymous lumps of data only accessible indirectly through opaque service endpoints. Those IT departments that enable uniform, transparent, controlled and consistent access to a corporation’s data, especially across a complex system landscape, are the ones that are in line to give their business the greatest benefit.
So it was with great delight (and fervent agreement) that I read, in “Beautiful Architecture”, Brian’s eloquent description of how the IT industry uses
“the wrong abstractions internally, overemphasising our software and services and underemphasising our data”
and proceeds to describe how an information centric approach is more appropriate.
Then, only a day later, I read, in “SOA Patterns”, about the challenges of SOA — in particular:
“how do you solve the BI / SOA impedance mismatch of getting a centralised view of the data in an architectural style that encourages encapsulation and privacy?”
Impedance mismatch! Yes, my point entirely!
The behaviour-focused approach of SOA, diametrically opposed to the information-focused approach of ROA, is a natural barrier to leveraging an enterprise’s key asset — information, and in this case Business Intelligence.