Welcome!

Log Management Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, David H Deans, Carmen Gonzalez, Eric Robertson

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Cloud, Recurring Revenue, Artificial Intelligence, Log Management, Server Monitoring

Microservices Expo: Article

The Concrete Abstraction of the Business Service

Even in the SOA context, the word "Service" has multiple meanings

It may come as a surprise to our long-term readers that even after seven years of talking about Web Services and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), ZapThink still has something novel and interesting to say about what a Service truly is. But in fact, although we define the term repeatedly for business, technical, and mixed audiences, there are still some subtleties to the definition that underscore the fundamental nature of the Service abstraction, and they also underscore the connection between that abstraction and some of the infrastructure choices Service-oriented architects must make. So, without fear of tripping up on the oxymoron of a concrete abstraction, let's delve into what ZapThink really means by a Service.

Implementations, Interfaces, and Abstractions
As we discussed in our Subtleties of Service Convergence ZapFlash, the term "Service" is overloaded even within the IT context. But while that ZapFlash differentiated between the Services we speak about in the context of SOA from other IT services, this ZapFlash focuses only on the subtleties of the definition within the SOA context entirely. Even within this relatively narrow context, however, people still often get confused about the level of abstraction of a Service. Basically, there are three levels of abstraction we work on in the context of SOA:

  1. Service implementation -- at this level of abstraction we're talking about software. A Service implementation is made up of running code. This is where the Service Component Architecture (SCA) lives, as it deals with Service components, which are implementations can consume or provide Services (in the sense of #2 below).
  2. Service interface -- Web Services live at this level, as a Web Services Description Language (WSDL) file provides a contract for the interface, but says nothing about the underlying implementation. Web Services, however, are not the only kind of Service interface, because Service contracts are not always WSDL files. Sometimes Service interfaces are loosely coupled, but many times they're not.
  3. Abstracted Service -- A representation of a business capability or data that the organization can compose with other such Services to implement business processes. An abstracted Service is typically a business Service, but not necessarily, as there is a role for abstracted IT Services as well. However, all business Services should be abstracted Services. Such business Services are the sorts of Services ZapThink focuses on, as they are the core abstraction that underlies SOA. Abstracted Services should always be loosely coupled, although the specific coupling requirements can vary. Building loosely coupled abstracted Services thus becomes the core technical challenge of implementing SOA.

So far so good -- but the real question here is how we make an abstracted Service actually work, when the tools at our disposal are the Service implementations and interfaces and all the infrastructure that goes along with them. It's one thing to talk about "representations of business capabilities," and quite another to string your ones and zeroes together into something that actually runs.

Service Contracts, SOA Infrastructure, and Loose Coupling
The first critical point to understanding abstracted Services is to understand that there is typically a many-to-many relationship between Services and Service contracts, as ZapThink explained in our Understanding the Relationships among Services, Contracts, and Policies ZapFlash. Clearly, a Service implementation may support multiple contracts, each of which could correspond to a particular Service interface, for, say, a particular type of consumer. Similarly, there might be several implementations that support a single contract, and hence a single Service interface, for the purposes of scalability or fault tolerance, for instance.

With abstracted Services, however, the relationship becomes what we might call "many-to-many-to-many": a particular abstracted Service might have several contracts that represent relationships with various consumers, while also representing multiple Service interfaces that themselves might each have one or more Service implementations. This approach might sound overly complex, but it's the key to loosely coupling the abstracted Service. To illustrate this point, let's work though an example.

Let's say we have a Customer Information Service that different lines of business in a large enterprise can consume and compose to provide or update any information about their customers that the lines of business might need. From the business perspective, this is a single business Service that any line of business can use as per the policies set out for that Service. From the IT perspective, however, it makes sense to implement the Customer Information Service as a set of Service interfaces with different Service contracts in order to support the somewhat different needs for customer information that the various lines of business might have. Furthermore, each Service interface may represent several Service implementations that the SOA management infrastructure can leverage as necessary to meet the service levels set out in the contracts for both the abstracted Service as well as the Service interfaces, in addition to the policies that may apply to these Services as well as other Services in production.

In this example, the complexity beneath the Service abstraction is necessary to support the loose coupling of the abstracted Service. For example, the line of business consumers may need different formats for the customer information, or may require different data as part of the response from the Service. To loosely couple such consumers, an intermediary (or set of intermediaries) may perform a transformation that can take the output from any of the Service interfaces and put it into the format the particular consumer requires, as per the contract in place that governs the relationship between that particular consumer and the abstracted Service. Then, either the management infrastructure (or possibly the integration infrastructure) may offer content-based routing of the requests from particular Service interfaces to the underlying implementations, based upon runtime policies in effect at the time.

Furthermore, a Service interface may support several contracts, for example, when one Service interface has multiple bindings. In the case of a Web Service, each WSDL file specifies a binding, so to support more than one, there should be multiple Service contracts for the Service interface. Each binding may then correspond to its own Service implementation, or in the more general case, multiple implementations may support each binding, or one implementation may support multiple bindings.

In any case, loose coupling means more than being able to support different consumers with different needs. It also means building for change. Because we have a governance and management infrastructure in place that enables this many-to-many-to-many relationship among abstracted Services, Service interfaces, and Service implementations, we are able to respond to those changes in a loosely coupled manner as requirements evolve -- in other words, without breaking anything.

For example, if one consumer changed its required data format, we could introduce a new contract which might require a new transformation on the intermediary between the Service interface and the abstracted Service, but wouldn't impact the Service interface directly or any of the Service implementations. Another example might be the need to upgrade or add a new data source to support the Service. Such a change might require a new implementation of one or more Service interfaces. But if the contracts for those interfaces don't change, then the abstracted Service is unaffected, and neither are the consumers. A third example would be a policy update that would change the content-based routing behavior between the Service interfaces and their implementations. In fact, we see this application of content-based routing as more of a management challenge than an integration task because of this need to support runtime policy changes.

The ZapThink Take
There's an interesting side-effect of taking this Service-oriented approach to implementing abstracted Services: it becomes difficult to count how many Services you have. Sure, in this example, you have one Customer Information Service from the business perspective, but it actually might have several Service contracts, each of which have several interfaces -- and those interfaces may change in number over time. How you count your Services may impact your SOA maturity model, for example, or even your software licensing costs, so this question may be more important than it seems.

But in the final analysis, the most important thing to remember is that the Customer Information abstracted Service is but a single example. In the general case, the architect must select from a variety of SOA infrastructure patterns depending on the specifics of the problem at hand, as we explained in our recent SOA Infrastructure Patterns and the Intermediary Approach ZapFlash. The bottom line is that loose coupling presents architectural challenges that are at the heart of planning and implementing the SOA infrastructure. Building the Service abstraction presents a simplified representation to the business but requires additional efforts under the covers to make that abstraction a concrete reality. This is the work of SOA: implementing and maintaining loosely coupled business Services that are at the core of any successful SOA implementation. Learn more at one of our upcoming Licensed ZapThink Architect Bootcamps or SOA & Cloud Governance courses.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, will discuss how given the magnitude of today's applicati...
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of hybrid cloud enablement solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere Systems was created by file systems experts determined to reinvent storage by changing the way enterprises thought about and bought storage resources. With decades of experience behind the company’s founders, Avere got its ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Golden Gate University will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 1901, non-profit Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing high quality, practice-based undergraduate and graduate educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions. Many of its courses are taug...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CAST Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CAST was founded more than 25 years ago to make the invisible visible. Built around the idea that even the best analytics on the market still leave blind spots for technical teams looking to deliver better software and prevent outages, CAST provides the software intelligence that matter ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.