Category Archives: Data Governance

Why Doesn’t SOA Use Data Models?

picture by Santi Mendiola via Flickr

The short answer is that’s there’s no good reason.

SOA, the Service-Oriented Architecture, is a popular approach for organizing business functionality. From the literature it’s clear that SOA’s emphasis is on programming. That’s ironic given that most SOA services deal with the reading and writing of data. We seldom see SOA developers creating substantive data models. This is a flawed approach that needs correction.

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Traversal

Traversal of Data Models

picture by Onilad via Flickr

Developers routinely use data models for defining database structure. This is beneficial, but it uses only part of data modeling’s power. Data models not only capture data structure, but they also express the potential for computation. Traversals of models can provide blueprints for resolving use cases, phrasing SQL queries, and assessing quality.

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A framework using the metaphor of bricks

Be Wary of Generic Database Layers

picture by Alejandro via Flickr

Over the years we’ve seen a number of projects where application architects use a generic layer to hide a database. This is a common approach with object-oriented languages accessing a relational database. Application code accesses the layer which in turn accesses the database. The use of a generic layer can be a valuable technique, but it is overused. Some architects seem to be unaware that there are other possibilities.

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An arrow as a metaphor for referential integrity

Do Use Referential Integrity

picture by Rudolf Vicek via Flickr

Generally the most pressing problems for software development concern quality, time to market, and cost. If you define referential integrity (RI) in your software you can improve all three of these items. RI improves quality by ensuring that data references truly exist and cannot be dangling. RI also reduces development time and lowers cost as it takes much less effort to define RI than to program the equivalent application code.

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Do Not Outsource the Data Model and the DB Design

The 360-degree Sydney Harbour control tower of as seen from the Observatory Hill. From the looks of it, it is no longer in operation.

picture by Theen Moy via Flickr

Many organizations today outsource software development. You, the customer, specify your requirements and the vendor is supposed to build software that meets your requirements. But requirements are not sufficient as a specification. With this common scenario, you have no control over the quality of the software being built. Furthermore, you have no visibility into the software’s structure. You can improve this situation by adding a data model and a database design to your specifications.

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