Bobby Wolf posted a great article about a wide-spread problem plaguing many SOA implementations: over-engineering of SOA infrastructure, meaning that people rollout products that are not particularly required to implement their business services. He specifically talks about ESBs, but I would say that “you ain’t gonna need it” principle should be applied to any component of a SOA stack. For example, why implement a super-expensive BPM suite (or a BPEL engine) when an organization is simply trying to build some data services? Or why pay for a registry if there are only a handful of services in place?

What many people don’t realize is just how many SOA-related features are already provided by application servers. Open-source Glassfish server supports JAXR Web services repositories, XSLT mediations, JBI integration and provides extensive Web services monitoring capabilities. It can be augmented by several open-source JBI-based ESBs, such as OpenESB. Other application servers provide similar set of features, although using different technologies (e.g., SCA instead of JBI in IBM products). With an application server being so powerful, there should be a very good reason and business rationale for upgrading to commercial SOA/integration products.

In my mind the right strategy for any SOA is to first implement some services that provide immediate value to the business stakeholders. These services should be implemented using the products already owned and used by an organization (or by using open source ones). After the initial success of this implementation, the organization can evaluate commercial products to see how these products will help implement next set of business requirements/goals more efficiently.

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