Service First Design in the Real World: Lessons from SA&E Summit

On August 23, Daugherty Business Solutions in St. Louis held its annual Software Architecture and Engineering internal summit.  I had the pleasure of teaching an SOA / Service First Design class, which focused on the fact that SOA is a design paradigm and not a suite of tools.  We spent time discussing the meaningful utility, feasibility and sustainability in putting your service design at the forefront of your architectural vision.  It was a great, interactive class on moving from application centric design to service first design.

But, how do you begin?

Starting something as daunting as SOA can be very difficult, since the changes are as much cultural as they are technical.  To move your organization toward Service First Design, you need to have three key ingredients:

1. Alignment between Business and IT

To break the application focus paradigm, both entities must begin to speak about, plan for, and measure business capabilities (See Gartner Business Capability Modeling for further reading).

2. Centralized Governance

You’ll need a centralized governance model that can evolve to provide oversight of the SOA governance components of service first design

3. Appetite and Ability

Companies will need an appetite and the ability to develop and adhere to business outcome driven roadmaps.

The idea of implementing SOA, and the Enterprise Architecture necessary to ensure these ingredients are fully developed, scares many organizations.  That’s because too often they are presented as “tool solutions” and large “Ivory Tower” activities that are not easily digestible.  One of Daugherty’s strengths is its ability to take the complex IT disruptions facing organizations and present them with an “in the Real World” perspective.

Yes, service first design is a large leap for organizations, but it doesn’t have to seem impossible.  To ensure your business capabilities have aligned technical solutions that can continue to evolve as long as your business does, you must begin to embrace that “Everything Is a Service.”  Service First Design is one way to help you make that transition.