The social side of SOA

A while back I came across a post on, where information architect Gene Smith of the blog outlined the 7 building blocks of social software.

The seven building blocks of social software

I recently used the model to explain the key capabilities of social software when brainstorming ideas with some friends. The model worked really well, everybody felt that they understood what the foundation consisted of and we could focus on other issues.

Illustration showing that it was well understood

Explaining SOA to some really smart bussines people

Then at another meeting, I was asked to explain SOA to some business people. I tried the traditional approach of explaining how services could be thought of like pieces of LEGO. That the pieces could be assembled in new configurations and thus creating new business processes. I showed them a picture trying to illustrate what I meant. (ZapThink has an excellent article about the LEGO concept of SOA) (The Swedish Magazine NyTeknik has an excellent image depicting the Lego nature of SOA)

Illustration showing SOA and LEGO

But it was to no avail.

Sure they understood the basic concepts but when we came to more and more details such as defining a service as stateless, discoverable, autonomous, loosely coupled, composable, abstract, reusable. Then adding the concepts surrounding governance and SDLC.

Illustration showing how everybody became confused
I had an epifany and once again I could see where the puck should be

Thats when I had an epifany, why not explain SOA in the frame of social software. I used Gene Smiths original model and rewrote it to be about services instead of people.

Illustration showing med having an epifany

7 building blocks of SOA

A way of uniquely identifying services in the system

A way of knowing which service is online, available or otherwise reachable

A way of describing how services are related

A way of communicating with other services

A way of forming mashups of services

A way of knowing the status of other services

A way of sharing things that are meaningful to services, such as other services


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