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Is SOA Relevant During Tough Times? A Podcast With The Open Group

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Editor's Note: Interested in the future of SOA, then you must attend the SOA in Action Virtual Conference.

What follows is my podcast with Dr. Chris Harding, the Forum Director for SOA and Semantic Interoperability at The Open Group, which is a vendor and technology-neutral consortium focused on open standards within and between enterprises. In this podcast we discuss SOA's relevance in a down economy, and also offer a quick glimpse at ebizQ's SOA in Action Virtual Conference coming this November where Chris will be participating in a panel discussion.

Listen to or download the 5:50 podcast below:



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First of all, what are some of the common misperceptions about SOA?

Well, I think there's one big common misconception about SOA, which is that SOA is in itself a complete architecture so you have SOA -- you don't need architects, you don't need to do any thinking about it. I think that it is a big misperception because although SOA is a very valuable architectural technique that you can employ within your enterprise, you do need to take an overall architectural approach to the enterprise really before you start doing too much at the detailed level with SOA to work out where and how it's going to fit in and how its going to work.

With the business environment as tough as it is right now, would you say SOA is a wise investment for companies at this time?

That's a very topical question. I think it is going to be something that companies have to be determining on a case-by-case basis. And this really is one of the points about taking an overall architectural approach. Really, you don't want to leap into SOA or any other technological development without having thought through what its benefits are, what the return is for your enterprise, and its one of the functions of the architect to help you to do that.

With the current economic circumstances, now is a time when a lot of enterprises are very much focused on making sure that they have the value for their investment. I think another point is that perhaps while some companies -- a lot of companies are suffering badly at this time, when the money stops going around, it ends up somewhere.

There are probably some companies who are thinking seriously about investing in the future of their enterprises while they're contracting their every day operations perhaps and they should think seriously about an architectural approach to SOA as a way to achieve future value.

What are some of the main obstacles that get in the way of the successful SOA implementation?

Well, I think the main obstacle is probably not technical. Culture and skills are things that have to be right in the enterprise to do SOA successfully. And enterprises wanting to do SOA seriously and on a reasonable scale do need to think about do they have the right overall culture to encourage service reuse, for example. Do they have the right skills in their development and operations people to develop and manage services?

Now what are some of the Open Group's SOA Working Group's primary initiatives at this moment?

Well, the Open Group, I think, has at this time seven projects going on in the SOA sphere. In fact, we recently started a new one, which is on legacy evolution to SOA. This is an important topic, obviously. But the three headline projects, I think you could say, about in the SOA space are first of all the practical guide to developing Service Oriented Architecture using the Open Group architecture framework TOGAF.

And then secondly, developing vendor-neutral industry standard reference architecture for SOA. And thirdly, at work we're doing on SOA Governance, which is recognized by many people of being a great importance for successful SOA. So those, I think, are the major SOA projects that we have going on, the most exciting ones at this point.

Sounds good. Now, is SOA ready for the next wave into the clouds?

Well, that is very good -- a very interesting question. A lot of people are talking about cloud computing right now. I'm not sure if the case is SOA ready, but are enterprises ready for cloud computing is a big question? And what cloud-computing really means is that you're able to use services across the clouds. Those services might be at the infrastructure level or they might be the Software-as-a-Service people are saying that their application level services are also part of cloud computing.

But in any event, it helps the enterprise to do this if their architecture is able to take advantage of cloud computing. And I think a service-oriented approach is a way in which they can do this, a primary way in which they can do this. So is SOA ready? SOA is and enabling factor for enterprises that should be ready to take advantage of the cloud.

Excellent answers. And if anyone has any questions, please sign up for the SOA in Action Virtual Conference and make sure you ask it so that it can be answered during the conference.

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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