I had the very great pleasure of chair a conference on Implementing SOA in the Banking Industry in Vienna last week as the European Regional Chair of the International Association of Software Architects (IASA). It was a truly excellent quality conference with great speakers from many of the large European banks. As chair I was able to give an overview of IASA and increase awareness of its aims - if ever there was a sector in need of an architectural profession then it is banking. During the day I made a mind map of the proceedings in order to provide some insightful comments in my closing remarks but this was to prove challenging.
In closing the proceedings I mentioned a couple of interesting thoughts regarding the map, firstly that version 1.0 had ended up resembling more of a spaghetti than a map (interesting anti-pattern analogy). With version 2.0 I divided the map into three main sections, drivers, benefits and challenges. Challenges far outweighed those of drivers or benefits which might make sense given the context of the conference, but the fact that I was still adding to this section at the same rate during the final speaker of the day as I had at the start was suggestive of the size of the challenges that face those deciding to embark on the SOA journey.
One key challenge that the map has drawn out and was evident from the majority of the speakers was the need for and importance of a consistent view of Architecture across the organisation. In many cases the investment in training architects has been considerable. For SOA to be successful the uptake needs to be pan-organisational and not confined to a being a project level tactic (see project anti-patterns) and clear consistent architecture provides a platform for this to manifest itself. However, not everyone can invest as heavily as these banks in providing this platform through internal guidance and training and so this brings me back to the work of the IASA. Pioneering work undertaken by these leading organisations will only be of true longevity and value if they are taken outside of these environments and shared on a global stage to develop the infrastructure to support a whole profession that through the benefits of scale these same institutions will be able to reap the rewards for many years to come.