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Business-Driven Architect

Brenda Michelson

New SOA Consortium Podcast: David Butler on SOA Transformation

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From my post on SOA Consortium Insights:

David Butler, Worldwide SOA Director and Chief Evangelist, HP, kicked off the SOA Consortium's June meeting in Ottawa with an information-packed presentation on SOA Transformation.

Setting the record straight from the start, David shared "In many respects the SOA market has lost its vision around what SOA is actually trying to do. Not provide a new set of technology, but provide a transformation focused on a design point called a business service. A business service drives measureable business outcome." David then shared examples of business outcomes from a semiconductor company, a financial services firm and an insurance provider.

David pointed out that successful SOA transformation is more than implementing software. Transformation spans people, organization, process and technology. On the organizational aspect, David called out the criticality of business-IT alignment for proper business service identification and implementation. "...how we map business capabilities in a consumer-provider fashion, and map that into IT systems and technologies. A business person should be able to consume and provide capabilities without knowledge of the underlying technology and platforms, and do that in a changeable manner."

David shared a 10-point roadmap for SOA transformation, based on customer experience, that covered business service definition, center of excellence, SOA governance, execution architecture and platform, quality and provisioning, service lifecycle, data center operations, IT management processes and line of business engagement.

In closing, David stated, "SOA is a business-oriented architecture". Following his presentation, David engaged in Q&A with the meeting attendees on SOA transformation challenges, including security, business service definition and granularity, service-engineering, service chargeback and economic models, and the changing role of the CIO.

To listen to, or download the audio recording of David's presentation and view the slides please go here

I really liked David's "SOA is a business-oriented architecture" statement.  As I've been saying, SOA is not the underlying technology, SOA is about enabling organizations to create, and adapt to, change


[Disclosure: HP is not a client of my company, Elemental Links, but is a founding sponsor of the SOA Consortium, which is an Elemental Links' client.]

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I may be being a bit to cynical about this, been a long week already. But having a technology vendor say its not about the technology is about the same as when I hear Exxon say it's looking for alternatives to oil. I question the motive. :)

Still this point comes up a lot in the discussion about SOA. I think it deserves a bit more attention as a whole beyond the SOA is about the business type of discussions. My opinion has been all business software development is about the business. Why is this perceived to be different?

I see the differences in design from a software point of view. It is quite different than what a lot of shops are use to. But IT-Business alignment has been a topic of conversation and a goal of IT for a while now. How does a service orientation change that on-going conversation with the business?

Hi Mark,

Excellent questions / points. Not cynical at all.

On the “SOA is not about the technology�, please note that was me dragging out my soapbox as a leap from David’s “business-oriented architecture� comment. For your first question, I think Exxon is looking for oil alternatives so they have something to sell in the future. Following that scarce commodity line of thinking, you could say software vendors want someone to sell to in the future.

I think the larger, multi-purpose (“strategic�) vendors understand that the “sell and forget� business model doesn’t make for sustainable customer relationships. For these vendors, their best interest (motivation) is to ensure customers actually attain value from software investments. This means admitting to and assisting with the hard parts of technology adoption – organizational change, process and people. Note I did include “assisting with� because these same multi-purpose vendors also have services organizations. (More motivation)

As for the business focus, I couldn’t agree with your statement more “My opinion has been all business software development is about the business.� Unfortunately, when “SOA the marketing label� burst onto the scene, the conversation was all about products, protocols, acronyms and religious fervor. That hype cycle told business folks they needn’t care about SOA, it was an IT thing.

Of course, those of us that were employing “SOA the approach� knew better. That SOA is a viable strategy for business-IT alignment, because [soapbox warning] defining, employing and composing business services, in business interactions, business processes & event processing, allows IT to deliver solutions that actually match the intent and operations of the business. However, IT can’t do that alone. IT & the business need to collaborate on defining services that align with business capability. But there is that troublesome “SOA is an IT thing� obstacle.

So, long comment longer, we need to reclaim / re-orient the mainstream SOA conversation away from bits and bytes to delivering business capability. And then, actually deliver the promised and expected capability.

Sorry you asked?

Never sorry to ask and thanks for laying out such a detailed response. I think we are on the same wave length, except maybe about Exxon. :)


Brenda Michelson, Principal of Elemental Links, shares her view on architectural strategies, technology trends, business, and relevance.

Brenda Michelson

Brenda Michelson is the principal of Elemental Links an advisory & consulting practice focused on business-technology capabilities that increase business visibility and responsiveness. Follow Brenda on Twitter.


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