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Business-Driven Architect

Brenda Michelson

Revisiting "Where will the services come from?"

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[What follows is my post first published on SOA Consortium Insights]

In February 2007, as we were starting up the SOA Consortium, I facilitated a series of invitation-only, vendor-free, SOA Executive Summits, with leading CIOs and CTOs representing Fortune 1000 corporations, major government agencies and non-governmental organizations. The purpose of the Summits was two-fold. First, was to validate, augment or contradict the mission, vision, strategies and tactics of the newly formed SOA Consortium. Second, was to conduct a roundtable discussion on real-world Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) implementation opportunities and challenges with advanced SOA adopters.

One of the questions I asked during the roundtable was "Where will the services come from?"  As documented in our Executive Insights Paper (pdf), this simple question generated an interesting conversation on the future of applications:

"Three of the CIOs attending the San Francisco Summit offered related, yet varying points of view:

"We're going to completely change the IT execution model, it'll be based on SOA principles...I'm not going to build any more monolithic applications. I don't even want to buy any more monolithic applications. I want to use SOA to de-customize the ones I have spent the last 8 years customizing."

"SOA fundamentally enables a change in the marketplace. The way we buy software today is changing and we are not going to buy software in the future. We are going to subscribe to services and you are going to deploy those services to develop and deploy your next generation applications."

"Are we going to have software as a service? Yes. Is it a major part of our SOA? No. We'll pick and choose things."
- CIOs on future of applications

What became apparent during this conversation is services will come from a variety of providers - internal builds, service-oriented application packages, software bundles, service marketplace subscriptions, and open source. CIOs believe the challenges of this "mix and match" environment will be service certification, business level interoperability and quality-of-service."

Two years later, inspired by a conversation with a cloud computing software provider, I revisited the "where will the services come from question" with members of our community of practice.  However, instead of focusing on where they might "get services", I asked if their organizations are currently, or considering, "offering services via the cloud", to augment interactions with business partners and existing customers, and/or as a means to generate new revenue streams.

Without giving away the secrets of our members, here are five key insights from the conversation:

1. Eventually, at some level, everyone is going to be a provider to the cloud.  The offering might be as simple as an information or business service, or it might be an advanced scientific algorithm service that requires dedicated data storage and compute cycles.

2. In developing cloud offerings, organizations are extremely mindful of "the business they are in". If a potential service offering supports the core business without risking competitive advantage or intellectual property, then sure, creating a service offering, to support an existing business relationship, or to generate new revenue, will be pursued.

3. Following the "sticking with our core business" line of thinking, many of these organizations are considering engaging with third parties to host and manage any service offering. No members seem compelled to neglect their core business to become infrastructure-as-a-service providers.

4. In respect to defining potential service offerings and associated pricing models (service call, business transaction) that "product leadership" is coming from the business, rather than IT, organization. However, in many cases, it is still incumbent upon IT to explain the potential of offering an external service, and of course, how that ties to a service-oriented approach.

5. This wasn't a theoretical conversation amongst architects, call participants spoke of current internal discussions / studies / proofs-of-concept underway exploring cloud computing and offering services externally.

So, where will the services come from? Everywhere and everyone.


[Disclosure: The SOA Consortium is a client of my company, Elemental Links]

1 Comment

Interesting stuff. It sounds like at last the 'business' is going to get what it really wants.

So many conversations we have are with disgruntled business units who just want stuff that helps their business processes work efficiently.

Also interesting is the amount of wasted effort over the years customising applications to make them do what is required. And who required it? Well, we've always done it that way...

Tomorrow's CIO should be the agent for change, showing their business colleagues what can be done to achieve real differentiation.

Mike McCormac

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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