5 Examples of Where Banks Have Missed the Mark with SOA


Oh the heady days of 2006 – when everything was possible and it seemed that by only adding one more layer of abstraction all problems would disappear.

I’ve heard mixed reactions to SOA in financial services, but still believe in the approach.  I just think that many organizations believe that they have achieved a services oriented architecture where in fact they have not yet really begun the journey.

Because of the mis-steps many believe that SOA has been tried and unsuccessful;  yet when done well, I have seen SOA in banking propel much-needed (and welcome) business agility.

Here are the typical misses:

  1. SOA?  Didn’t we buy one of those last year?  Unfortunately many vendors have been hawking various components, layers and solutions as turn-key “SOA Enablers” — the reality is that achieving SOA is not about buying something, it’s about changing how the organization thinks about business problems and solutions and then enabling a robust layer that can enable these solutions.
  2. SOA is Our API:   A technical layer that serves as an application programming interface to your legacy systems is useful, but it’s not a Services Oriented Architecture.  The missing ingredient is business relevancy.
  3. We have a dash of SOA:   Yes, a little SOA is interesting but doesn’t really make the case for flexibility and actually adds complexity by mixing up the patterns.  The power of SOA is through reuse and leverage of the service landscape — not having a full landscape will mean that most subsequent projects will avoid reuse.  It is sometimes useful to at least have the blueprints for the services landscape and then when a project needs a service it can contribute and build it — but not having a fully fleshed out vision of the service landscape makes the SOA vision seem short-sighted.
  4. IT Made us do SOA a few years ago..    When SOA is not something that the business understands, gravitates towards and really wants it will be seen as something being force-fed by IT – and this as you can imagine is not a recipe for success.
  5. We are not using SOAP, we are using REST..  Achieving an enterprise SOA vision in banking is not primarily about the technical standards.  It’s about breaking down the functional landscape into bite sized atomic reusable components that the business understands.  This allows the organization to work in a combined way to recompose existing elements into new, innovative solutions.

If you think you have tried SOA and it didn’t work out — do you think you really tried it or did you go down one of these side roads?  What has your experience with SOA been in banking?

2 Responses to 5 Examples of Where Banks Have Missed the Mark with SOA

  1. I really wanted this article to be about how I can build a business case for SOA. Maybe next time.

  2. Hi Kim, building a business case for SOA is a good topic; the key to doing SOA well is ensuring that the business is engaged and understands the value. The dynamics of the business case can be based on the reuse/leverage of the services, reducing effort/cost of future change, or capturing additional revenues with faster time to market for future solutions.

    Best regards,


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