Book Image

Applied SOA Patterns on the Oracle Platform

By : Sergey Popov
Book Image

Applied SOA Patterns on the Oracle Platform

By: Sergey Popov

Overview of this book

Table of Contents (16 chapters)
Applied SOA Patterns on the Oracle Platform
About the Author
About the Reviewers
An Introduction to Oracle Fusion – a Solid Foundation for Service Inventory
Gotcha! Implementing Security Layers

The characteristics, goals, and benefits of SOA

As an evolutionary approach, comprising the best of the architectural and technical solutions designed in the last forty years (arguably even more), SOA nowadays in many ways is quite well standardized with a well laid out vocabulary of meanings of technical terms. Along the course of the entire book, we will stick to the definition of SOA, summarized by Thomas Erl in Service-Oriented Architecture: Concepts, Technology, and Design, Prentice Hall / PearsonPTR Publishing.

This is also available at The complete SOA Manifesto that was developed as a result of systematic collaboration of many experts' groups can be found at

Still, it's quite fascinating to see that debates are still being sparked and raged worldwide regarding proper terms and their meanings. We are not going to judge or participate in any form in these discussions. That's not the purpose of this book. Obviously, there is one good way to avoid that, which is to stay focused on the practical targets that SOA helps us to achieve. No wonder these goals and benefits are quite well defined and are the sole purposes and reasons why the SOA approach was proposed in the first place. Any practicing architect who has been through several projects (even if not defined as being SOA-based) could easily recollect the common requirements stated by both sides: Business and IT. Let's just quickly recollect them. So, any concrete solution should have the following properties:

  • They should be kept as simple as possible while still meeting the business needs [R 1]

  • They should be kept flexible and consistent to support the changing enterprise-wide business needs and enable the evolution of the company [R 2]

  • They should be based on open industry standards [R 3]

  • Systems and components within the proposed IT domain (architecture) will be viewed as a set of independent and reusable assets that can be composed to provide a solution for the company [R 4]

  • They should be based on clearly defined, well-partitioned, and loosely-coupled components, processes, and roles [R 5]

  • They should be designed for ease of testing [R 6]

  • They should be based on a proven, reliable technology that is used as originally intended [R 7]

  • They should be designed and developed, focusing on nonfunctional requirements right from the start [R 8]

  • They should be secure; able to protect confidentiality and the privacy of all underlying resources and communications [R 9]

  • They should be resilient to faults, that is, capable of staying operational even in the event of catastrophic failure of the internal components [R 10]


These are actual consolidated requirements taken from more than ten projects and RFIs.

We could really continue on, but in general, these are the top-ten points of any requirements list, and it will be hard to go further without repeating them. Therefore, any list that is similar to this cannot be consistent with more than 15 unique statements within it. We suggest keeping these points up your sleeve until the end of this chapter. This is because at the end of the chapter, we will do some practical exercises of matching listed declarations to the capabilities of SOA. Quite often, these requirements are based on pure common sense, and some people declare them as design principles. It is hard to argue that real design principles should at least be based on common sense, but compliance to this simple fact is not enough to talk about elements from the previous list as principles. At the moment, they are just declarations of good intentions, and we, after several implementations of complex projects, know quite well what road is paved with them. We will talk about the definition of principles a bit later in a considerable amount of detail, but now it's important to analyze these wishes and find what's common there and how it is relevant to the service-oriented approach. It is quite simple to see that the whole list (with one small exception, which is just to confirm the general rule) can be divided into two categories. These categories are related to effort (first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth items) and time (second and seventh items), with the seventh item equally relevant to both effort and time.

Standing a bit aside, the ninth item, generally described as compliance by security policies, is nothing more than pure money, as almost no one these days seeks fun in simple informational vandalism. All security breaches aim to steal your information, that is, money, and therefore, put you out of business. As a consequence, it's needless to say that time and effort can essentially be compared to money as well. So, unsurprisingly, everything boils down to the same logical end, that is, money, which is the key; we have learned this many times, when talking to the bosses (CIO, CEO, project manager, and so on). As stated previously, in IT, money comes in two general ways: either we consistently shorten the delivery cycle or reduce operational costs.

Firstly, we would like to place strong affectation on the word consistently, otherwise, all delivered solutions will tend to be quick and dirty with rocketing operational costs. The two ways (mentioned previously) don't need to be exactly inversely proportional, and proper balance can be found, as we will see later.

A shortened delivery cycle simply means that we will strive to employ the existing reusable components if feasible. Also, every new component or element of the infrastructure that we will add to our inventory will be designed, keeping reusability features in mind. The good rate of return from previous investments (that is, ROI) is the main direction of implementation for new products. At the same time, a higher level of reuse denotes a lower number of heterogeneous components and elements in the infrastructure.

A less diverse technical infrastructure with more standardized components tends to be more predictable and consequently more manageable, and the lowering Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which is the key part of operational costs, becomes more attainable. With higher ROI and lower TCO, an organization becomes more adaptable to market changes. This is because with them, we will maintain a more transparent and understandable application portfolio with a high level of reuse, and at the same time, reserve more money for creating new and best-of-breed products in the areas of our business expansion.

How can these strategic business benefits be achieved from a components' development standpoint? We have already mentioned that to make our components more interoperable, we should reduce the level of disparity, but at what level? By building components on the same platforms using the same languages, versions, protocols, and so on? This will be unrealistic even within a single department, not to mention a decent-sized enterprise. Our development and implementation processes must be focused on reducing the integration efforts between components, aiming to standardize interfaces. Taking this standardization further onto higher levels, we could achieve a certain abstraction level that will be comprehensible to business analysts yet present enough technical details to be sufficient for IT personnel. The long time benefits promised (which may not be entirely directed) by object-oriented programming (OOP) are quite rarely achieved due to the complexity of inheritance and encapsulation concepts.

The Agile developing approach is the solid basis on which business analysts and technical leads can find mutual areas for fostering reusable components with minimal interaction cycles. Still, the Agile methodology in place is not the main prerequisite for achieving this, and if correctly maintained, the level of interface abstraction allows people from both business and technology fields to speak the same language. The main outcome of this exercise should be to provide a description of a component's interface with business-related capabilities that is desirable for the expected level of reuse. What is inside the component, that is, its technical implementation, is completely out of discussion, and it's up to the technical lead to decide which way to go.

Thus, various technical platforms can leverage their best sides where it's needed (or where it's inevitable due to specific skill sets in place of physical implementation) by staying interconnected without affecting each other's premises and project deadlines. Finally, the federated approach gives the opportunity to choose the best products from various vendors and assemble them in the business flows, abstracted and architected in the previous steps. Of course, these products must stay in compliance with the interface specifications and the operational requirements that we put in place. The opposite is also true, that is, setting standards from our business standpoint will help vendors to adjust their products and offerings in such a way that integration efforts will be minimal.

So, it's all about money, as the logical sequence mentioned earlier demonstrates. Have you noticed that in that logical exercise, we didn't use the abbreviation SOA at all? So far, we are just trying to convert the previously presented list of intentions derived from various project-design documents, such as request for informations (RFIs) and request for proposals (RFPs), into a concise list of benefits. Our next step will be to assess how attainable they are. Although that will be the purpose of the entire book, the key criterion will be defined here shortly. Before proceeding with this, we would like to stress again that the basic terminology around business benefits and design characteristics is based on the widely accepted structure presented by Thomas Erl as mentioned earlier. Also, we do not want to reinvent the wheel for the thousandth time and then participate in terminology wars, which will lead us nowhere. Thomas Erl has described the obvious benefits that we would like to achieve in a logical sequence, and you can see the proposed sequence for implementing the listed-out goals in the following table:

Goals and benefits

Common solutions' requirements

Increased ROI

1, 8

Reduced IT burden (low TCO)

1, 3

Increased organizational agility (shorter time to market)

4, 8, 10

Increased intrinsic interoperability (reduce integration efforts)

2, 4, 6

Increased vendor diversification options


Increased federation

5, 6

Increased business and technology alignment

1, 2

It is also obvious from the previous requirements list that some of the requirements are very contradictory, and in most practical implementations, there could be quite a few natural enemies present, such as:

  • Security and performance (always blood enemies).

  • Reliability factors and highly reusable components (for example, having a single point of failure).

  • Resilience achieved by Redundant Implementation and IT costs, independent reusable assets and governance costs (for example, preventing the component logic from getting scattered over several implementations).

  • Flexibility and reuse-by-design and development costs (for example, in the initial phase of development). Higher flexibility denotes that more execution paths are required, which requires more testing.

This list can go on as the previously mentioned points are just the obvious ones. Thus, the benefits summarized in the table are comparably more consistent as the most contradicting parts are abstracted. However, we must keep in mind that they are still there, and we will focus on them in more detail while discussing the implementation of design principles. What is important now is to distill the most common characteristics that any architectural approach will ensure in every application to attain these benefits.

It is clear that one of the primary requirements for reducing time to market is to improve communication between the technical leads and business analysts. If the ways of expressing the business and technical requirements are kept abstracted from the analysts, and at the same time, the essential technical specifications are kept in place for the developers, then this architectural model could be truly business-driven. The other way around is also valid. If IT provides a managed collection of reusable business-related services, then it's quite possible that new business opportunities can be spotted and proposed by business analysts; this is because new workflows are composed out of the existing services. The response time to the new challenges will be lowered as the change in the implementation's task force will be business-driven and IT will be resource-oriented at the same time.

Components, especially developed with a business recomposition option in mind, will gradually form some kind of components library. With strong sponsorship from architects, this library will become attractive for more and more extensive reuse in various business domains, depending on the business context of the components of course. This library has a name. Traditionally, it's called repository, and we will spend a lot of time discussing its purpose and architecture a bit further. However, from the characteristics standpoint, let's depict it as a technical platform that is capable of hosting these components and providing runtime and design-time visibility, which will be discussed further. Simplistically, this will be any application server with a management console, available for all enterprise developers and architects; it will present all reusable components as the sole enterprise-centric assets.

This second characteristic would be possible only when the presented components are designed with the highest level of composability in mind. This means that when integration efforts, including regression test requirements, platform performance enforcements, and activity monitoring are tamed enough to a level where the reusability option becomes so attractive for all the technical and business teams, the idea of reinventing the wheel would never come as a plausible option. Surely, these characteristics could have more governance efforts in the background than purely technical ones. Still, with proper planning based on honest and realistic maturity assessment and with evasion of the big bang's "all-or-nothing" approach, when SOA becomes more religion than the practical "one step at the time" approach, it’s quite achievable.

Components developed as reusable assets should follow commonly accepted standards; otherwise, reusability will be severely limited to one technology domain. Another alternative would be to reinvent the already existing standards, which is always a waste of time. It doesn't mean that any published standard must be followed blindly; the adoption of standards must be carefully planned. An enterprise's maturity analysis combined with marketing research on top products in a particular area will guide an architect towards common models, describing the component's behavior and implementation technique with minimal integration efforts. Thus, by achieving the first three characteristics, we will open the highly desirable option of maintaining the hot-pluggable infrastructure where best-of-breed products from various vendors could be combined into well-turned fabric based on common standards. It is an architect's responsibility to stay watchful, analyze standards' specifications, and deduct the crucial parts and to be focused on increasing the desirable characteristics.

This design characteristic of making it possible for all components in a repository to stay vendor-neutral has an extra significance for us in the context of this book; it is dedicated to the realization of certain design patterns on the Oracle platform. Actually, there is no contradiction here. This is because we will strive to present concrete solutions in a vendor-neutral way first, if possible, and then demonstrate how Oracle tools could address the same issue. We will do this here and try to demonstrate the maturity of the Oracle platform, which is capable of delivering hot-pluggable solutions that could potentially pose fewer burdens for the enterprise IT domain.

So, now it's a good time to sum up the short descriptions given previously in the table of architectural characteristics, in the way they have been defined by Thomas Erl. Here, we will again repeat our exercise, trying to map the supporting core characteristics to most of our requirements (if not all).


Requirements [R 1] to [R 8]




1, 5, 8





We have selected the most obvious characteristics, which directly support the most common requirements, summarized at the beginning of this chapter. There is no need to elaborate on this further, as we can easily see that other requirements are supported directly or indirectly. However, we would strongly recommend that you repeat this exercise every time you analyze the requirements for new products, systems, or components in the RFI scope or at any other stage of the project.

The following figure summarizes all that we have learned so far:

Until now, we have intentionally avoided mentioning the term SOA during this short exercise of outlining the keystones of the requirements analysis. The purpose is quite straightforward: if you could clearly define your goals in a very precise way and declare concise characteristics in support of these objectives, it really doesn't matter what the name of your design approach is. Some can call it common sense, and that's perfectly fine. Nothing could be better than a design approach based on common sense, which is easily comprehendible by business and IT. However, apparently something else is needed, and that would be the design principles as a strong foundation for the first two keystones.

In the following paragraphs, we will outline this foundation again using the classification provided by a best-selling SOA author and founder of the SOA School, Thomas Erl, which is accepted by Oracle. This time, we will strongly focus on SOA and Service-Oriented Computing (SOC) as the best technical implementation of common sense depicted earlier. There is no reason to evade it further—if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. Goals and characteristics mentioned previously are exactly how the SOA declares them. How they will be achieved and supported is a matter of the principles' implementation. They are all interconnected, so the balance is also part of common sense, and as is usually put, it must be applied in a meaningful context. The extent of this is the level of realization of tactical and strategic goals and technical capabilities of the principles' implementation.