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Archive for July, 2010

Top-Down vs Bottom-Up SOA

InfoQ fired the debate again. When I looked at my past, I see myself sometimes on side, sometime on the other side. Almost exact debate exist between centralized vs decentralized.  Same story. Now that I have more structured thoughts, I can share them.

So, the problem here is not SOA should be top-down or bottom-up.  We need to focus on what needs to be bottom-up and what needs to be top-down. My approach is to go with the layers. Take Zachman, when you look at the upper layers (Scope, Business, System) are more top-down, and the lower layers (Operations, Implement, Develop) are more bottom-up. Of course the line is not very clear, in the middle (System, Develop) bot approaches meet each other.

Depending on the area of interest, people choose different side on the discussion. Bill de hÓra argues SOA cannot be top-down because there’s no top, SOA systems are in reality decentralized. Of course, when he’s talking, he’s thinking about web services, applications, RPC protocols, REST etc. All about implementation of services. He’s 100% right. On this level, decentralization is the key. On the other side he’s failing to understand when John Crupi is telling SOA must be business driven, must be top-down, he means we start with vision/mission, strategy/tactics, not by technology. He’s not talking about implementation, but scope, business and system in Zachman. There, to have top-down approach is the key.

So my conclusion is people either cannot express what they’re talking about and assume everyone else is in the same layer or fail to understand there are different layers and there’s no one approach to use in all of them. As I experience everyday, latter is more common.

Dealing with complexity and uncertainty

I found some time to look at IBM’s last CEO Study which is named “Capitalizing on Complexity“. The main focus of the study is the increasing complexity and how to CEO’s are dealing with it. They categorized some of them as “Standouts”:

Today’s complexity is only expected to rise, and more than half of CEOs doubt their ability to manage it. Seventy-nine percent of CEOs anticipate even greater complexity ahead. However, one set of organizations — we call them “Standouts” — has turned increased complexity into financial advantage over the past five years.

Big differences between the Standouts and the others are:

  • Decision style: (54% difference between Standouts and others) “… quick decisions even when facing uncertainty.”
  • Simplify operations: (30% difference between Standouts and others) “… the need to simplify their operating
    strategies in order to better manage complexity.”
  • Business model innovation: (81% difference between Standouts and others) Types of business model innovation considered:
    • Enterprise model: Specializing and reconfiguring the business to deliver greater value by rethinking what is done in-house and through collaboration.
    • Industry model: Redefining an existing industry, moving into a new industry, or creating an entirely new one.
    • Revenue model: Changing how revenue is generated through new value propositions and new pricing models.

My conclusion is very simple, who’s dealing with increasing complexity and uncertainty in a better way can innovate more, this is the key for success.