SOA has a bad friend: EAI

One of the typical mistakes regarding SOA is to consider this approach just a new kind of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) solution.

I will try to analyze the main differences between SOA and EAI.

  • Scope: EAI is typically an IT only project, SOA should involve business people and IT specialists
  • Goal: the goal of an EAI initiative is to solve the application integration problems. The  goal of a SOA initiative is to better execute, track and monitor business processes that use business services.
  • Means: EAI employs a bus (integration broker) in order to integrate the existing application silos – that remain at their places. SOA aims to break the walls of applications silos that hinder the flow of business processes and to create composite applications.
  • Benefits: EAI unifies the message transport middleware and brings simplification and reduction of technical latencies. SOA brings to agility in the creation, execution and the modification of business processes through the reuse of functional capabilities (services),
  • Topology: EAI has – conceptually – an hub & spoke topology (it aims the unification of the integration tools, although some integration brokers have a distributed technology). SOA has a distributed, enterprise-wide conceptual model (although many vendors push to a centralized, proprietary solution).

Unfortunately many managers treat SOA as a technical project, this bring to EAI solutions based on the SOAP protocol and do not gain the business benefits of SOA.

SOA projects should be considered strategic initiatives, obtain some senior management buy-in and involve business people, as well as middleware experts, software analysts and data administrators. Their success should be measured by business KPI, like shorter time-to-market for new products or shorter execution time for end-to-end processes.



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