Increasing organizational agility in service-oriented computing

This excerpt from "SOA: Principles of Service Design" explains how service-oriented computing establishes widespread organizational agility.

Organizational agility refers to the efficiency with which an organization can respond to change. Increasing organizational agility is very attractive to corporations, especially those in the private sector. Being able to more quickly adapt to industry changes and outmaneuver competitors has tremendous strategic significance.

An IT department can sometimes be perceived as a bottleneck, hampering desired responsiveness by requiring too much time or resources to fulfill new or changing business requirements. This is one of the reasons agile development methods have gained popularity as they provide a means of addressing immediate, tactical concerns more rapidly.

Service-oriented computing is very much geared toward establishing wide-spread organizational agility. When service-orientation is applied throughout an enterprise, it results in the creation of services that are highly standardized and reusable and therefore agnostic to parent business processes and specific application environments.

As a service inventory is comprised of more and more of these agnostic services, an increasing percentage of its overall solution logic belongs to no one application environment. Instead, because these services have been positioned as reusable IT assets, they can be repeatedly composed into different configurations. As a result, the time and effort required to automate new or changed business processes is correspondingly reduced because development projects can now be completed with significantly less custom development effort (Figure 3.32).

The net result of this fundamental shift in project delivery is heightened responsiveness and reduced time to market potential, all of which translates into increased organizational agility.

Figure 3.32 Another example of a formula used in SOA projects. This time, the delivery timeline is projected based on the percentage of "net new" solution logic that needs to be built. Though in this example only 35% of new logic is required, the timeline is reduced by around 50% because additional effort is still required to incorporate existing, reusable services from the inventory.


It is therefore important to acknowledge that service-orientation has a strategic focus that intends to establish a highly agile enterprise. This is different from agile development approaches that have more of a tactical focus due to an emphasis on delivering solution logic more rapidly. From a delivery perspective, service-orientation does not tend to increase agility.

Use the following table of contents to navigate to chapter excerpts.

SOA: Principles of Service Design
  Home: Service-oriented computing and SOA: Introduction
  1: Design fundamentals: Design characteristics
  2: Design fundamentals: Design principles
  3: Design fundamentals: Design pattern and design pattern language
  4: Design fundamentals: Design standard
  5: Design fundamentals: Best practices
  6: Introduction to service-oriented computing
  7: Service oriented architecture
  8: Service compositions
  9: Understanding service oriented computing elements
  10: Entity services
  11: Web services and service oriented computing
  12: Service inventory blueprints
  13: Service-oriented analysis and service modeling
  14: Service-oriented design
  15: Goals and benefits of service-oriented computing
  16: Increased intrinsic interoperability
  17: Increased federation
  18: Increased vendor diversification options
  19: Increased business and technology domain alignment
  20: Increased ROI
  21: Increased organizational agility
  22: Reduced IT burden

SOA: Principles of Service Design is dedicated to service engineering and establishing service-orientation as a design paradigm. This hands-on manual for service design establishes concrete links between specific service-orientation design principles and the strategic goals and benefits associated with SOA. Purchase the book from
Thomas Erl is the world's top-selling SOA author, Series Editor of the "Prentice Hall Service-Oriented Computing Series and editor of The SOA Magazine. His books have become international bestsellers and have been formally endorsed by senior members of major software organizations such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. He is the founder of SOA Systems Inc., a company specializing in SOA training, certification and strategic consulting services with a vendor-agnostic focus.


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