James Governor's Monkchips

On SOA, Broccoli and Ice Cream

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Broccoli and ice cream is a phrase Thomas Otter, enterprisey HR Maven, Gartner Analyst, cycling nutter and all round good egg, uses a lot in talking about enterprise software. He grew up with it –

“you can’t have your ice-cream without your broccoli.”

As systematic viewpoints translates it:

“broccoli – not as much fun as ice cream, but way more nutritious.”

For further broccoli and ice cream reference material see this podcast with SAP’s Jeremiah Stone. Anyway, I was re-reading Enterpriseyness the final sequel or my secret demo weapon exposed from Thomas recently (yes because someone tweeted it!), but unlike when I checked it our in 2006 I actually watched the video this time. Very funny, and to me it just shrieked SOA.

SOA should not just be about ice cream. It requires work, discipline and analysis. Its no good just leaving your existing business processes wheezing away, having a crafty cigarette behind a gleaming portal (looking a bit like Dennis in fact). That’s not SOA. SOA means diving into your broccoli, doing the work to really understand how things fit together, what can be jettisoned, what your data models are, how they can be usefully extended. Hey with SOA your enterprise architecture might even give up smoking.

Forget the ice cream. Real World SOA is all about the broccoli.


  1. Yes that someone was me…
    I was in this broccoli / ice cream mood yesterday and even changed my twitter avatar to counterpoint Thomas’s brocolli with some ice cream.

    This of course can be seen in my chinposin avatar history http://chinposin.com/home/njames.

    Good thing that chinposin thing. Whoever thought of that? 😉

  2. Funny how often Broccoli comes up. My colleague Shakir spent almost as much time on Broccoli as on databases in his post on how to build scalable database architectures using Oracle.

  3. Sorry James, that was the wrong post. He only mentions Broccoli in passing in that one.

    The one where he goes on and on about broccoli is this one, on troubleshooting IO issues with the Oracle wait interface.

  4. @James – I am shocked, truly shocked. Especially as I am your unofficial supplier of smokes when we’re on gigs together. That might change. Rapidly. Bit like SOA really (lol)

  5. […] James Governor’s Monkchips » On SOA, Broccoli and Ice Cream – I am shocked, truly and momrtally wounded. […]

  6. […] of my key themes in consulting with Microsoft and Sun this week is Broccoli and Ice-cream. Its hard to persuade people to eat their broccoli, whereas ice-cream is easy. Tax cuts are […]

  7. […] Right now, honestly, people at Fortune 500 companies are sticking their neck out when it comes to green issues. Its easy to complain about greenwash PR, but go to a conference not specifically focused on sustainability and see how many people actually attend a session labeled green. Of course what matters is that the right people are listening. But again that’s a different story. Right now green is an outlier, not a vote winner, its a question, not a product or lifestyle decision. None of us want to make sacrifices. None of us likes to change our behavior. But the Corporate marketing machine can change behaviours. And that is what we need to do. Jason Matusow of Microsoft describes the core basics of any major problem as “hygiene factors”. Thomas Otter at Gartner would talk about Broccoli and Ice-cream. […]

  8. […] down monoliths, making service calls easier, is only now going to start paying real dividends. Organisations that have eaten their brocolli are now going to get to eat their ice-cream. My four year old would understand. Enterprises and ISVs that have done the hard work will now […]

  9. […] with so many areas 95% of success in using technology is hygiene factors. You have to eat your broccoli before you get ice-cream, and you have to brush and floss afterwards. Data science and data culture are definitely not […]

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