Thursday, September 30, 2010

Are SOA and Enterprise Architecture Now the Same Thing?

ebizQ editor, Peter Schooff, started an excellent discussion today on the ebizQ SOA forum today asking the question as to whether SOA and EA have converged into the "same thing". The question was inspired from David Linthicum's blog, Do SOA and enterprise architecture now mean the same thing?' Yes, they do.

So, where do I stand in this heated debate?

I cannot answer the question definitively. However, my hypothesis is that if they are the same thing then you should be able to map ANY accepted EA Framework such as TOGAF with the elements of SOA.

So for example, continuing with TOGAF, which defines EA as the aggregation of four different architectures, namely:

  1. A Business Architecture that defines the business strategy, governance, organization, and key business processes.
  2. A Data Architecture that describes the structure of an organization's logical and physical data assets and data management resources. Data architecture does not include the design of the actual physical data stores (or database).
  3. An Applications Architecture that provides the blueprint for the individual application systems to be deployed, their interactions, and their relationships to the core business processes of the organization. The application architecture in TOGAF is not concerned with the actual software applications but rather limits the term application to a logical grouping of functionality.
  4. A Technology Architecture that describes the logical software and hardware capabilities that are required to support the deployment of business, data, and application services. This includes IT infrastructure, middleware, networks, communications, processing, standards, etc.
So, does SOA map to each of these four architecture subsets of TOGAF? The bottom line is: Making an assertion is one thing; proving your assertion with a fact-based mapping is the proverbial "the proof is in the pudding."

* Originally posted in the ebizQ SOA forum on September 30, 2010.


  1. An interested related discussion on the same ebizQ SOA forum a few months ago (July 2010) can be found here.

  2. I have been learning many things by reading your blog. Thanks for the great posts!

  3. Compare the capabilities and services of each discipline. Very different. SOA is an architectural style. Enterprise architecture has many different styles in its tool bag and SOA is just one of them.

  4. Thank you. That was the point I was trying to make as well... that when you look at an EA framework, SOA turns out to a subset of the big picture. SOA is but one style of EA, not necessarily THE style for EA.

  5. I am afraid SOA will never be EA. Without the imput of the various EA disciplines you would be unable to understand how the service would be deployed and utilised within your target organization and what business need the service would fulfil.

  6. Thank you for your insightful comment. I agree and as you indicate, SOA sounds like just one piece of the much bigger "enterprise" puzzle.