Service-Oriented Architecture – SOA and Boundaryless Information Flow


Why is SOA important to The Open Group?

The Open Group’s vision is Boundaryless Information Flow. It has long been a principle of enterprise organization that permeable boundaries between departments, organizational levels, enterprises, and nations deliver productivity and enterprise agility. This was established in the 1980s by pioneers such as Jack Welch of GE (see The Boundaryless Organization: Breaking the Chains of Organizational Structure by Ron Ashkenas, Dave Ulrich, Todd Jick, and Steve Kerr). But traditional IT architectures hinder this! The need for Boundaryless Information Flow – provided by IT architectures that enable information to flow freely across the permeable organizational boundaries – was identified by The Open Group and described in its Interoperable Enterprise Business Scenario. The Open Group took on the mission of driving the creation of Boundaryless Information Flow.

The Problem

Enterprise architecture is the key to achieving Boundaryless Information Flow. The problem, as described in the Interoperable Enterprise Business Scenario, is that enterprises need the kind of architecture shown below, in which the business processes are supported by systems that can exchange information freely.

Boundaryless Information Flow

Too often, however, they are faced with a situation where each business process has its own system which has its own particular interfaces and information formats, and is a so-called “information silo”, as shown in Information Silos.

Information Silos

Boundaryless Information Flow through SOA

With SOA, the applications are replaced by services that interact with each other. Typically, interactions take place by exchange of messages via an Enterprise Services Bus (ESB) within the enterprise, or across the web in the case of external services, although other forms of interaction, even direct invocation of one service by another (so-called “hard-wiring”) may be used. This style of architecture can be the basis of Boundaryless Information Flow, as illustrated in SOA for Boundaryless Information Flow.

SOA for Boundaryless Information Flow

It is because of the potential for SOA to deliver Boundaryless Information Flow that SOA is critically important to The Open Group.