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ebizQ's Business Agility Watch


Is Event Processing the Key to Advanced SOA? Gartner's Yefim Natis Answers

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What follows is my podcast with Yefim Natis, Vice President and distinguished analyst at Gartner Research. Yefim discusses event processing, why it's a key element of SOA practices, and how it's essential to advanced SOA, which will also be covered at ebizQ's SOA in Action Virtual Conference coming this month. Also, this subject will be integral to Gartner's Application Architecture Development and Integration Summit, and that's coming December 7th - 9th in Las Vegas.

Listen to or download the 9:27 podcast below:

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PS: What is event processing and why does Gartner position it as a key element of advanced SOA practices?

YN: Well, yes indeed. Event processing is a key part of advanced SOA, Service Oriented Architecture, although it's not the only part of it. And the reason why we start with it and focus on event processing here is that first of all, most of the time people don't start their service-oriented projects, service-oriented engagements with event processing. They get to it at a later point with a greater maturity and at a time when they put greater demands on their architecture, when they try to put more mission critical, more central of their applications into service-oriented models so that's one kind of natural background why event processing comes in as an advance form of the architecture.

But also, the other is that it delivers event-processing, delivers advanced benefits of Service Oriented Architecture as well. It does require thinking about your service architecture that is more systematic, more involved, more engaged in terms of computer science, elements of the design so it is more advanced in terms of the skills that it requires but it also delivers greater benefits. And most importantly, I should say, business process that, in the end, is the objective of most software projects is to simulate business process and make business process run better, automate it better, optimize it.

Business processes in the real world are all event driven. Look back at your own day at how it goes and how you do the work. There are events that are happening around you and you're responding to them. They happen not on schedule and many of them are complex events; that is they involve multiple happenings and multiple changes and you need to respond to them. That's your real world business environment, business process.

So when software is able to emulate the fundamentals of the real world business process, the software becomes more intelligent and the software environment becomes more useful, more advanced.

To get advanced results from SOA, do you need advanced SOA?

Well, it depends to a degree on semantics and the meaning of the words. Yes, you would say that in order to get the maximum benefit of Service Oriented Architecture you would have to have significant amount of experience, significant investment in terms of the best practices, in terms of the organization, your software development organization's culture, and the development tools, and middleware and so on. That is probably true although one implication of that, that I want to avoid because that would not be true at all is that with the basic fundamental beginnings of SOA infrastructure you don't get any benefits or you get insufficient benefits, that's not true at all.

You begin getting benefits of Service Oriented Architecture when you begin thinking about your applications as service-oriented, when you begin separating the front-end and the backend, when you begin thinking of your business logic implemented as software in the form of services, as reusable services that are wrapped with reusable standard interfaces. All of that is SOA kind of thinking and the moment you start thinking of your software that way, you already are getting significant benefits to the quality of software you deliver, the manageability of that software to the format and the productivity of your development process, your application management process, version control and so on. So yes, there are some advance benefits that you get over time that go beyond what you get at the beginning but you get benefits from the start.

Is advanced SOA only for advanced IT organizations?

Well, to some degree probably yes. At the moment, there is not really a sufficient amount of easy-to-use development environment, development tools to support some of the advanced SOA categories such as event processing which is discussed, or such as high performance, highly distributed SOA environments, or federated SOA where you combine multiple SOA centers into one interoperating environment. These things typically are developed through the internal architecture efforts by the IT organization and therefore, some degree of systematic capabilities, systematic process internal culture of sharing experiences, internal culture of cooperation or coordination of various initiatives within the IT organization. All of that would be required to take full advantage, yes.

Does cloud computing require advanced SOA skills and technologies?

Well, cloud computing -- the whole conversation of cloud computing has to start with the question. Do you think of cloud computing as a provider of cloud services or as a consumer of cloud services? And many organizations over time will be both. But if you take the simplest case scenario engaging with cloud computing, that would be a simple case of being a consumer of cloud computing.

Cloud is third party provided computing software based services and these services could be used through user interfaces provided by the cloud service provider. And in that case, the internal architecture is unknown to you, you just use user interfaces, you get your application running. The application may or may not be service-oriented. Most likely, it is because of the demands of the cloud style architecture but you don't know.

However, if you're a developer, and you're creating applications, which are making calls on cloud services, that is, they don't use user interfaces, they use programatic interfaces into those services. Then Service Oriented Architecture is a no-brainer, its automatic. If you've never heard of Service Oriented Architecture, you'd be using because the cloud providers will give you the means of invoking these cloud services in a way that is consistent with Service Oriented Architecture. They will give you interfaces. Those interfaces will then encapsulate it, they'll be supporting ubiquitous protocols and API models so that you can easily access those services and so you will be engaging SOA as a consumer if you want to planning to provider of cloud services.

Again, you have to think of how these services will be consumed. And again, you're most likely going to conclude that you have to offer these services in a manner that's consistent with Service Oriented Architecture so that the consumers then can turn around and use their already existing development tools, composition tools, access middleware to take advantage of those services. So we have at Gartner published recently a research note, which is suggesting and looking into the issue of cloud computing in fact acting as new phenomenon that contributes -- that essentially cements use of Service Oriented Architecture and its principles in mainstream organizations.

Even if you never wanted to use service orientation and all your applications were monolithic, when you become a consumer of services that are provided from cloud background, you become a user of Service Oriented Architecture. I want to say a very important thing. And in all the previous questions, when we talk about SOA, we're not at all necessarily talking about SOAP. SOA is SOAP maybe one of the means of delivering one of the protocols -- wire protocols that maybe used to deliver SOA services but it's not at all definition to SOA. So when I say that cloud is offered by way of SOA, I don't mean that its offered by the way of SOAP necessarily. But rather what I mean is its offered by way of wrapping the functionality into reusable interface definitions.

Everyone listening, I recommend that you check out ebizQ's SOA in Action Virtual Conference. Also, make sure to attend one of the premier SOA Events, the Gartner Application Architecture Development and Integration Summit that's coming this December 7th - 9th in Las Vegas.

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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