Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.

Packt Publishing recently asked me to review a copy of Michael Havey's new book, SOA Cookbook. I finished the book yesterday and really enjoyed reading it. This book is made for technical folks, so non-technical managers and drag-n-drop programmers should not waste their time. Michael Havey takes a really neat approach in this book to assist architects and developers to understand the concepts of SOA and process modeling. In each of the nine chapters, Michael discusses pertinent patterns, use cases, or disputes and then offers very clear and easy to understand examples of what the resulting models would look like. He also goes one step further and shows specific examples within each of the following vendor stacks (IBM, BEA, Oracle, and Tibco). I find this extremely helpful for technicians who are modeling processes in an SOA for the very first time. He even provides a URL
to download the sample code.

One of the most important points in this book and one that I totally agree with is that the typical three layer SOA stack that most vendors offer is "unmistakenly process oriented. There are processes at each layer". This is obvious in the BPM layer. Michael goes on to discuss how ESB processes are single-burst stateless processes and how orchestration processes are both stateless and stateful. So why is this important? Michael states that "it is easier for developers to model a service as a process than to code it explicitly in a third-generation language". Another important point is that since SOA is a business driven architecture and business analysts and business people are more comfortable looking at use cases and process models, technicians need to start thinking in these same terms. After all, "Bad processes mean bad SOA" as Michael concludes.

The remainder of the book dives into topics such as design decisions on whether a process belongs in the BPM layer or within the lower SOA layers, modeling using BPMN & BPEL, design decisions for both short & long-running processes, using the "Flat-Form" method of modeling processes, dealing with dynamic processes, Simulating SOA, and concluding with measuring SOA complexity.

Some key points worthy of mentioning:

  • A very worthy discussion of simulating SOA performance takes place in chapter 8. Michael recommends that simulation occurs before a line of code is written. When this does not take place it raises the risk of performance surprises in the production environment which may or may not occur right away. When these issues occur in production, resolving it becomes extremely expensive and can have catastrophic impacts.
  • The Flat-Form method of modeling processes is a must read. I won't spill the beans here but the methods intent is to flatten the process models to improve maintainability and simplicity. Great stuff!
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I have read a ton of books on SOA and most of them are high level discussions on what SOA is and how to get started. This book picks up after those discussions and is a great tool for architects and developers who have to actually build and deliver SOA. I highly recommend it! I also recommend that your testing lead reads the book as well. If you don't have a tester who understands the content of the book, you better get one!

Next up is my colleague Todd Biske's SOA Governance book which I will finish reading this weekend!


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