Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Dependency Principles

I've been used to thinking of SOA as "Dependency-Oriented Thinking" for such a long time that it suddenly struck me that I should readily be able to postulate "dependency principles" that can be applied at each of the BAIT layers. As it turned out, I was fortunate enough to have some actual case studies to verify my proposed set, and these cases were selected for being representative of different tiers, so they were quite comprehensive.

It turns out that the lesson to be learnt after a post-mortem of each of those case studies was that one or more dependency principles had been ignored or violated, resulting in the problem that was being faced. The corollary is that an organisation that scrupulously adheres to these principles will end up achieving SOA.

So, without further ado, here are the dependency principles (updated on 25/12/2013):

Business Layer Principles

1. Traceability – Enforce core governance; ensure that everything that is done makes sense with respect to the organisation's Vision
2. Minimalism – Challenge assumptions, reject unwarranted constraints, do no more than required, reuse functional building blocks
3. Domain Insight – Understand the true nature of the business; don't be misled by superficialities or conventional wisdom; re-imagine the business from first principles
4. Business Process Coordination Style – Choose a coordination style (orchestration or choreography) based on whether tight control is possible and/or necessary. This influences the choice of technology standard (SOAP or REST), but may also be influenced by a prior choice of standard.

Application Layer Principles

5. High Cohesion (“Belonging”) – What belongs together should go together, with minimal links between distinct systems; question instances of a single logical function split across multiple systems, or multiple logical functions combined within a single system. Group operations that share a Domain Data Model and business logic into Products, those that share an Interface Data Model into Services.
6. Decoupling of Interfaces from Internals – Ensure that no external system develops dependencies on the internal aspects of a system; create an interface to isolate the systems from each other.
7. “Goldilocks” Signatures (Stability versus Precision) – Identify multiple concurrent flavours of each logical operation; establish a way to express the business intent common to all of them; make sure that the interface doesn't change for minor variations in logic but does change with the business intent.
8. Shared Semantics (Negotiation of Intent and Content) – In choreographed processes, ensure that the service provider and service consumer understand the meaning of every Operation as well as the mechanics of how each Operation should be invoked.

Information (Data) Layer Principles

9. Decoupling of Interface Data from Internal Data – Distinguish the Interface Data Model from the Domain Data Model; use this to guide the grouping of Operations into both Products and Services
10. Isolation of Context from Content – Separate the core data elements of the Interface Data Model from its qualifying elements; establish a separate Type Hierarchy for Context; use Context to categorise Variants and minimise Versions
11. Low External Coupling (“Need to Know”) – Expose the minimum possible set of data to service consumers; make the data as generic as possible but exposing the business intent (i.e., conforming to the “Goldilocks” signature).
12. Type Hierarchy – Create a data type hierarchy for both Content and Context elements; use this to expose multiple Variants as a single logical operation
13. Identity Association – Ensure that entity identifiers do not leak out through the interface; provide a mapping between external and internal identifiers.

Technology Layer Principles

14. Extraneous Constraints – Avoid introducing fresh dependencies between unrelated components in the process of implementing business logic
15. Logic Bundling – Avoid combining unrelated pieces of data or logic
16. State (“Stickiness”) – Avoid tight and unwarranted associations between instances of data/logic and physical components
17. Topology Hotspots – Avoid associating physical components together in specific layouts and hard-wired connections unless warranted
18. Late Binding – Delay unavoidable dependencies till the last responsible juncture

When you put these principles together with the entities at each layer, it forms a simple and mutually reinforcing set of techniques, and the complete approach is what is "Dependency-Oriented Thinking". This is an extract from the document "Dependency-Oriented Thinking: Volume 1 - Analysis and Design":

There is a companion document on Governance and Management. Feel free to download both documents:

Dependency-Oriented Thinking: Volume 1 - Analysis and Design
Dependency-Oriented Thinking: Volume 2 - Governance and Management