Service-Oriented Architecture Implementations 'Flattens the World'

Rate this:
Total votes: 0

Thomas L. Friedman’s book, The World is Flat, provides several helpful insights into current business and technology environments. Some of these insights bear directly on the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) world, particularly with regard to how services can be accessed and used regardless of geography or technological origin.

In the non-SOA world, applications and architectures are designed with a single or limited use. In contrast, in the SOA world, the application or architecture itself is designed to be used as a component or service not only for the immediate system but with other systems in mind.  In a flat technology world, the service or component could be anywhere and be handled by anyone in the world.  This is already a common occurrence even with legacy architectures that are in place today.  Current examples include insourced, geographically-distributed employee collaboration tools and support centers, such as JetBlue’s system, to outsourced fulfillment and integrated logistics service hubs currently provided by UPS, InfoSys, FedEx, Wipro, Accenture, IBM and many others to global 1000 companies all the way down to much smaller entities.

SOA noise level is quite high – a fully qualified search on “service oriented architecture” on Google yields approximately 3 million hits with at least 20 sponsored links.  Every vendor has an SOA ‘compliant’ offering similar to when Web Services first rolled out.

Any new application currently being developed should be designed so that there will be only a marginal cost to make the project fit into a service concept.  This assumes some base level of web tiered application stack has been instituted within the proposed architecture.

Adapting an existing application to a SOA does not normally require additional SW/HW purchases, unless a full-blown Enterprise Service Bus or other SOA platform is required. In most cases, the key constraint to implementing a SOA is how easily engineering resources can be organized to architect existing services to be more loosely coupled. This skill set can often be found in-house.

The key is for business analyst, software architects, and developers to start thinking about applications and processes along these lines. Traditional development calls for reusable code blocks to be bundled within an application. SOA calls for reusable applications, treated as services to be bundled or consolidated in various ways, on a much larger scale.  With this freedom of thinking related to creating services into a very different kind of building blocks, adaptation from a few will provide the insight to break the perceived limits of the SOA 4 minute mile.

A SOA increases flexibility by looking at cross departmental processes as a collection of interconnected functions -- discrete processes, such as “customer credit check” or “authenticate user.” Mixing and matching these functions at will -- on the fly, in response to changing business conditions, delivers the ROI for the Service Oriented Architecture.

The flexibility of a SOA does not come without a price.  The more difficult challenge of creating and/or consuming a new service (Web or otherwise) comes from the unfamiliarity with the rules of engagement with SOA. But SOA and Web Services standards and its corresponding use are evolving nicely with increased refinement and reliability.  This will drive more business customers becoming more comfortable with the concept and their ability to take advantage of available services.

As noted in the World is Flat book and multiple other sources, new technology takes time to be digested by the business and technology community.  The absorption of the new abilities then starts fostering new or different ways of thinking in creating solutions to existing challenges.  Web services paved the way for SOA.  Now SOA will repaint the corporate infrastructures over time with the corresponding business processes slowly but surely starting to take advantage of the shift.

It is ironic that after 400 years, the world is flat again. SOA flattens the application world by providing services that allow authorized user access from anywhere, eliminating geographical and system barriers. Just as Columbus’ discovery of the New World opened up much greater possibilities, so SOA offers organizations the ability to explore new horizons. Some ships will flounder as they cross this technological ocean, but others will establish beach heads into newer, more fertile grounds.

Velan Thillairajah (AKA ‘V’) is the founder and Chief Executive Innovator of EAI Technologies where they help bring companies like VeriSign, AOL, NeuStar and KPMG closer to their customers with rapid solutions that cover RFID, financial markets, and security applications.

Cornell engineering 83, followed by an MBA at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business, where he was featured in Forbes 'Best and Brightest.'

Mr. Thillairajah is actively involved with the Cornell Entrepreneur Network and the Young Entrepreneur Network (YEO) organizations in the Washington DC area.

Also, as an active Board Member of The Integration Consortium (, Mr. Thillairajah speaks and represents The Integration Consortium at numerous conferences and events and contributes to content related to Integration best practices and strategies.

Contact information –


Join the Discussion

Remind me later

Free training!

Want to sample our training?
Attend our Open House for immediate access to sample some of our newest courses. 

Schedule an appointment with a training advisor to learn more about our certificate programs.

Act now. The Open House is only available for a limited time.