Thursday, 6 December 2007

Service Discovery, part 1: Bottom Up

Discovering services is one of the more challenging parts of designing an SOA. I will examine several strategies and try to assess the merits and dangers of each and every one of them.

One of the easiest (but not necessarily the best) approaches is: bottom-up. Using this approach one analyses the existing application infrastucture for all available functions that can be exposed (in any way) to the environment. For example: flat files, database procedures, external interfaces, callable forms and even database tables & views. For each function you need to determine whether or not the exposed functionality is independent of other functionality. Any dependency means that there's additional functionality needed to be able to freely expose this function.

This approach will give you a large number of available functions which you can expose as services. However, there's a catch: are these the services my business needs? The answer is: No. These are the services which can be made available from the current applications within the company. This approach will NOT tell you anything about their usability.

The good thing is: it does give you a feel for the needs of the company. These applications are not here by accident.

There's one dangerous aspect to this approach. It is a technical approach to the use and discovery of services, but it is NOT SOA! Stay tuned, I will get back to this!

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