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Architectural and Design Challenges with SOA

With all of the hype about service oriented architecture (SOA) primarily through the use of web services, not much has been said about potential issues of using SOA in the design of an application. I am personally a fan of SOA, but it is not the solution for every application. Proper evaluation should be done on all requirements and use cases prior to deciding to go down the SOA road. It is important to consider how your application/service will handle the following perils as it executes.

Example Challenges of SOA

  • Network Connectivity Issues
  • Handling Connectivity Issues
  • Longer Processing/Transaction Times

How many of us have had issues visiting our favorite web sites from time to time? The same issue will occur when using service based architecture especially if it is implemented using web services. Forcing applications to access services via a network connection introduces a lot of new failure points to the application. Potential failure points include: DNS issues, network hardware issues, remote server issues, and the lack of physical network connections.

When network connectivity issues do occur, how are the service clients are implemented is very important. Should the client wait and poll the service until it is accessible again? If so what is the maximum wait time or number of attempts it should retry.

Due to the fact of services being distributed across a network automatically increase the responsiveness of client applications due to the fact that processing time must now also include time to send and receive messages from called services. This could add nanoseconds to minutes per each request based on network load and server usage of the service provider. If speed highly desirable quality attribute then I would consider creating components that are hosted where the client application is located.

References: Rader, Dave. (2002). Overcoming Web Services Challenges with Smart Design: http://soa.sys-con.com/node/39458

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