If you have sat through the many sales pitches from companies selling SOA products, which you learn is defined as whatever their products used to be but now with a new, improved web services interface and UDDI registry, you’ll probably enjoy reading Grady Booch’s blog entry on Thursday.

Groody Booch mugshot
Grady Booch

In it, Grady laments how service-oriented architecture is being sold like snake-oil: the miracle elixir to cure all your enterprise ills. That part isn’t breaking news. But it is nice to hear this message repeated from such an architectural luminary, and whose employer is big on SOA.

The best part of his snake-oil blog is a list of questions those who hype SOA fail to explore. These are the questions to put in front of your CTO when he or she is being wooed, wined and taken out to golf by the SOA salespeople. Here’s a selection:

  • What distinguishes a good service from a bad one?
  • What should the granularity of a service be?
  • When should I offer up a stateless service versus a stateful one?
    • How do I express stateful service semantics, and how do I ensure their misuse doesn’t corrupt my system?
    • How do I express the semantics of a society of services when only the most trivial services work in isolation?
    • How do I expose some services to some clients and hide them from others? </ul> Grady points out he’s a strong supporter of SOA. “However,” he writes, “I tremble at the realization that the fundamental technical benefits as well as the costs and trade-offs of SOA are sometimes lost in the guise of Snake Oil-oriented Architecture.”