Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Agile SOA - without the wait

Create Web Services by wrapping legacy applications - now that's agile

You have a workflow that involves 2 legacy (10 year old) windows applications (say written in VB and C++), a legacy web application (say 2 years old with embedded DHTML and Ajax), a packaged Java application and an SAAS application like This workflow (transaction) is carried out 10’s of thousands of times every day by hundreds of users.

How quickly would you expect to build a service around some or all of this process? 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years perhaps?

Assuming you can persuade your SAAS and packaged application vendors to do their share in your timeframe, there is still no telling really how long this will take. All of the business logic needs to be replicated, that so far took thousands of man years to develop and assuming you actually know where to find it! In the mean time of course, your business user requirements around improving and extending this workflow are not standing still. Indeed they must not stand still in today’s competitive environment.

What if you could wrap these existing applications and workflows, and have your SOA that way? What if you could taking any of your (or your vendors) existing web services (if they exist yet) and have them participate immediately in these workflows without waiting the 1, 3, 5, or 10 years? You wouldn't even need to understand your existing business logic because it would automatically get carried forward in the wrapping.

At OpenSpan, we believe in SOA but we believe it should not take away the critical importance of remaining Agile. This applies to remaining Agile around the deployment of SOA as you build it out as well as being agile around changing business requirements. If you build a web service, your existing applications should be able to consume it right now (see Last Mile of SOA).

A successful SOA strategy will be an Agile SOA strategy. IT and Business both win with this approach. IT get to work on their long term SOA strategy yet remain the superstars for introducing SOA immediately, and whilst continuing to deliver on the ever changing real-world business needs.

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