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ebizQ's Business Agility Watch


Technology is the Easy Part With SOA: Talking With Brenda Michelson

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Editor's Note: To understand the rapidly evolving world of SOA, learn firsthand from the people who are shaping its future at ebizQ's SOA virtual conference, which you can sign-up for by clicking right here.

What follows is my podcast with Brenda Michelson, Program Director for the SOA Consortium and principal of Elemental Links. In this podcast we discuss the SOA Consortium and the SOA framework they've been developing, along with some of the challenges companies are facing in their adoption of SOA, and generally provide a quick introduction to the SOA in Action Virtual Conference coming up on ebizQ in the fall.

Listen to or download the 5:57 minute podcast below:

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I hear that the SOA Consortium is currently developing a Planning Framework, which is interesting since everyone else in the industry seems to be working towards developing reference models. What made you decide on a Planning Framework?

Honestly, we didn't set out to develop a Planning Framework, but it more or less evolved from conversations that we had in our community of practice and our Executive Summit series. When we started the SOA Consortium, we realized that SOA was more than boxes of software, bags of protocol, but that's where the industry was focused a couple of years ago.

For us and the people that we talked with, SOA is an approach to deliver business capability so it's broader than just buying an ESB, or registry, or placing a mediator. And when we were out at our Executive Summits, the CIOs told us that SOA is pervasive and the technology is the easy part. In our conversations in the community of practice, those sentiments were continuously reinforced that, yes, architecture and technology were important and it's what people talked about that most of our conversations really revolved around organization and process issues.

Some examples were how do you work with the business on service funding strategies, governance, service definitions, or how do you work with your IT peers after you get the pilot out? How do you involve project teams? What are the challenges with operations? What do you do with the data folks? How do those strategies dovetail?

So what we were realizing is that there's a lot to here, there's a lot to know, and all that information and all those activities aren't necessarily in the purview of the team that's starting up your SOA because those are typically architects. So what we came to was that you really needed to develop a roadmap for your organization that could be implemented by the right people in a coordinated manner.

Now, is this roadmap, is this a universal road map that all organizations should follow or is it the framework more a set of activities that companies should incorporate into their own roadmap?

Definitely the latter, in that people need to compose their own roadmaps. Organizations, enterprises, agencies would use this framework to pick and sequence activities that account for their specific business organizations, their technical situations, their people skills.

And what we've talked about patterns emerging over time, say for government agencies who are pursuing SOA for information sharing that it's unlikely that a common roadmap would work for more than a handful of organizations. But what we've talked about and learned through conversations is that the activities on most roadmaps are common such as most organizations create a governance plan.

Most organizations work on a service versioning policy. However, the implementations, the rules behind those vary organization to organization what they pick for products, what they already have in place. So we found that kind of the Chinese menu approach to developing a roadmap was really helpful for our members and we believe it'll be helpful for the community at large.

Is the framework available now?

Yes and no. The basic framework itself and the supporting context diagram are available in document form, and then our next step is to launch a public wiki of all the contents so that you could actually drill into the different activities and see the relevance to SOA, see some insights from our practitioners, some learning that we've gathered along the way. And that wiki will be available in September. We're going to launch it at our member meeting in Orlando.

Just to get to a more general question, what do you see the current state of SOA adoption in companies?

What we see with our membership is that people really are moving along with SOA, they're delivering business value, people are actually using SOA not just to optimize a current business but some people are entering into even adjacent market strategies.

Right now, we're running a case study contest. It's open to the public. And what we've seen from those entries is that people really are telling us stories about how they've used SOA to grow their business, to optimize some processes, to deliver some new business capabilities, that the stories aren't focused on some the early SOA stuff, like setting up governance or even using a service approach to integration.

So what are some of the implementation challenges that the companies are facing?

What we've seen is some initial challenges that everybody faces, that we all kind of learn in kindergarten and forgot that sharing is hard. But more and more what we see, and even if it's a big topic of our member meeting in Ottawa in June, is that its getting beyond the initial SOA challenges to things like operations, security, properly defining your services. People are really starting to focus now on the bigger problems of how do you have a Service Oriented Architecture at scale. So how do you move beyond pilot?

Interesting, and I want to remind everyone to make sure you checkout the virtual conference of SOA in Action that's coming in the fall where Brenda will be a keynote speaker. You can sign up for her session, Business Driven SOA Planning Framework, right here.

ebizQ’s expert blog team covers a broad range of BPM, business integration, business analytics/monitoring, collaboration, content and related issues.

Peter Schooff

Peter Schooff is Contributing Editor at ebizQ, and manager of the ebizQ Forum. Contact him at pschooff@techtarget.com

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