Architecture for Dummies

As Frank Lloyd Wright said: "Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union." SOA is the form to the business function. And today, the closest thing we have to being able to define business function is called "BPM."

So my problem with notions like "SOA for Dummies" is that, once again, we are spreading a technology-led message to less and less technical people, in an effort to help them "get it" when what we should be doing is spreading business-led messaging to more and more technical people so business understanding is shared. I agree with the goal, but not with the tactic. IT architects already believe they are business-driven. They think their SOA initiative already is a proper response to business-driven concerns. If it's not adequate -- and I agree with Phil that it's usually not -- then the technology has to be demystified for those dummies in business if you want anything to change, because they're the only ones who can change it.

In most cases, the strategic goal of the CIO is the same as the strategic goal of the line of business executive. What's different are the priorities, the timelines, the degree of centralized control. Inserting another level of priesthood -- the Business Architect -- into the picture is not the answer. The problem with SOA already is too much "A" and not enough "S". My approach would be to rearm the business with an understanding of what today's technology can do. Empowering the business might make it possible, for instance, to build business solutions concurrently with the service-oriented infrastructure. Perhaps business people, not just architects, could have a voice in defining the scope and granularity of business services.

So I love the idea of SOA for Dummies. IDG, if you're ever looking for a companion BPM for Dummies, give me a shout anytime.