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SOA - Integration Industry Pulse

Beth Gold-Bernstein

IBM Focuses on Business Outcomes

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Last week IBM gathered the analyst community together to preview a series of SOA announcements which, to my ear, contained more marketing approaches and services than product innovations. Senior IBM managers participated in the announcement, including Robert LeBlanc, GM, Software Sales, Tom Rosamilia, GM, WebSphere Software, Manoj Saxena, GBS, VP, Global Solutions & Asset Management, Mike McCarthy, VP, GTS Middleware Services, and Sandy Carter, VP, SOA & WebSphere Marketing, Strategy, and Channels.

IBM is touting its position as a leader in SOA implementations based on experience with 7022 customers and 7420 business partners. Now they are announcing a "First-of-a-kind, customized go-to-market approach" that includes a 100 city tour, with customers speaking in each city. The agenda and discussion will be localized and customized for each city. Over 1000 customers are participating in these presentations. One third of the cities are in emerging and growth markets.

IBM's approach is to focus on business outcomes and provide new products and services to enable a successful business outcome. The outcomes include driving agility into the organization, taming chaos by process, creating a smart SOA foundation, and meeting new customer needs.

Drive Agility into the Organization. Includes industry specific solutions and key agility metrics, and of course SOA middleware to implement all. Manoj Saxena introduced SmartBusiness INSight, which provides past and future process insights. Saxena also announced a set of industry specific frameworks with business trends and processes, market opportunities and threats. The full offering includes business design services, approaches for linking core business processes to business strategies, processes, and IT execution, and for prioritizing SOA/IT initiatives based on business priorities and pain points, as well as the IBM CBMSOMA Methodology which integrates development across CBM/BPM/SOMA.

For me, the most interesting announcement Saxena made was about the key agility indicators which IBM built from over 16000 engagements from global services. The announcement was for over 300 Key Agility Indicators over different industry processes. This KAIs are also being embedded into WebSphere Monitor and Modeler. These industry specific key agility indicators are potentially very valuable IP if they provide managers with insights that would not have otherwise been available. Saxena also announced the release of Chemical and Petroleum product development frameworks. So far, there have been nine frameworks released. These include a framework to monitor the profitability of products, and one to monitor call center performance vis-a-vis average in the industry and best in class. There is a framework for retail inventory turnover and sales per store and one for Insurance to determine combined ratio of policies written. There are frameworks for monitoring losses and expenses ratios, and other key things that drive business outcomes.

Taming Chaos by Process. This set of announcements, discussed by Tom Rosamilia, focuses on BPM enabled by SOA. According to Rosamilia, in this release IBM focused on making BPM easier to install, easier for business people to use, and easier to buy with more attractive pricing.

IBM is making BPM more accessible through Lotus mash-up technology, providing easy to use, unified, integrated interfaces for different user roles such as business leader, business user, business analyst, etc. For example, a business analyst would need an interface to modify rules and change policies. A process owner or analyst will have an interface for monitoring the end-to-end performance of the process. Now a common user interface crosses several products including WebShpere Monitor, Process Server, and Modeler. The BPM Suite is going to include more content management integration with the Active Content Edition. The second edition will be available in December.

According to Rosamilia, the world of events is "exploding" and with the next release discussed WebSphere Business Events & eXtreme Scale of IBM was focusing on the expansion of the billions of transactions processed by CICS and other platforms each day. IBM WebSphere Business Events, released in May, is the product purchased from Aptsoft. The next release will feature tighter integration with the rest of the portfolio, including integration with the ESB, integration flows, and into monitor to make policy updates. WebSphere eXtreme Scale provides in-memory management working with thousands of JBVs, and up to 1 million events per sec, to tackle big problems. The CICS Transaction Server Support Pac will be available in December, and will convert transactions into events and integrate with Tivoli to enable bilateral sharing with business events.

BPM Healthcheck Services, originally announced at IMPACT back in the spring, apparently was popular among customers and helps them identify current strengths and shortcomings in different dimensions and articulates a BPM Strategic Roadmap. Rosamilia also announced an expansion of this offering.

Build a Smart SOA Foundation. This business outcome includes a collection of products and services focused on the underpinning of SOA strategy, including Portfolio Strategy Analysis & Planning, Information Agenda, Entry Points, Connectivity, Governance, and security. The full list included in the SOA foundation offering includes:
• Business Value Assessment
• Online Value Analyzer
• WebSphere Portal
• QuickStart / Design & Implementation Services for WebSphere Portal
• InfoSphere Information Server
• IBM Mashup Center
• WebSphere Process Server
• WebSphere MQ File Transfer Edition
• QuickStart services for DataPower
• WebSphere Application Server
• Rational Asset Analyzer
• WebSphere DataPower LLM & B2B
• WebSphere ESB 6.2
• Detailed Business & IT Best Practices By Maturity
• Telelogic System Architect
• Rational Requirements Composer
• SOA business and infrastructure consulting services
• Tivoli Security Policy Manager
• Rational AppScan
• Professional Services for security

This is obviously the IBM laundry list, and it's a long one - not necessarily a good thing when trying to figure out how what is needed to implement a specific solution. During the call, IBM focused on a few of the areas. One message was that WebSphere Application Server (affectionately known as WAS) is a key underpinning of the SOA strategy and expected to be a key SOA development platform moving forward. A recent survey by ebizQ showed that the number criteria for choosing a development platform is existing skillsets, and the #1 skill set in organizations today is Java. From the beginning application servers have evolved from TP monitors, and kept adding services. This trend will surely continue as WAS has added support for Web Services, ESBs, and other services to enable it to remain a viable development platform for new SOA solutions.

Sandy Carter spoke about the role Rational Asset Analyzer in developing new types of solutions. The Rational Asset analyzer is being touted as the way to develop an inventory of services based on existing assets.

As part of this announcement IBM talked about connectivity enhancements, using Data power to enhance security at the perimeter. DataPower offers low latency messaging and will work with financial services and telco offerings. IBM also announced enhancements to XML parsing, and added B2B support for the ESB, including trading partner management and governance in DMZ for transactions.

Meet new customer needs. IBM put Web 2.0 and green computing under this business outcome. This includes easy customer assembly of mash-ups, easy access to enterprise SOA and web data, new widgets that support multiple platforms, and enhanced XML. WebSphere Portal now has a richer more responsive Web 2.0 experience for new customers, new AJAX user interface, new Rest interfaces, consumption of feeds, and new BPM integration. The full list of products, services, and education includes:

• IBM Mashup Center
• WebSphere Portal
• WebSphere sMash
• Rational Application Developer
• Insight on Using SOA for Green
• Smart SOATM Sandbox through Cloud Services
• Smart SOA Social Network
• SOA Certifications
• Innov8 Video game
• Carbon management dashboards through SOA
• IBM Academic Initiative
• SOA courses online and in-classroom
• IBM Innovation Centers
• Industry Framework Program

The areas focused on in the call were Rational Application Developer, which is being touted for SOA development, and enhanced Web 2.0 development tools, including visual development focused on the combination of Web 2.0 and SOA.

Sandy Carter also highlighted two new green offerings, including pre-packaged scoreboards to monitor green initiatives, including green focused KPIs such as water and energy usage. Additionally, IBM has published 7 insight papers around green SOA highlighted best practices around the world.

IBM is also offering what can be called a try before you buy option through the SOA Sandbox offered through cloud services. This allows customers to experience SOA solutions free for 30 days. The Sandbox includes business patterns, scenarios and use cases. IBM has also set up innovation centers around the world which support solution partners.

Some of the products and services announced during the call are available now, and some will become generally available in Q4. Parsing through the range of offerings announced, it seems to me that IBM's products, services, solutions, and educational offerings are aimed at closing the skills gap for customers to help ensure their success with SOA. At first my reaction was that we were being called in to applaud a marketing strategy. But the thing is, it really is a good marketing strategy, and one which capitalizes on IBM's unique strengths, so despite my initial reservations, I do in fact applaud it the general approach.

One question I hear often these days is "does SOA really work? We're hearing more about failures." The unfortunate truth is that while SOA really and truly is our best hope for delivering IT and business agility, it is not simple. It is not one product, not one solution. It is a new way to think about how to develop systems, and skills are in short supply and high demand. IBM stated that 61% of customers are in foundation or basic stage of SOA. They need help. The long, long list of IBM products for each business is an indication of the complexity of the problem. Focusing on industry specific solutions is a good way to get around that problem.

If you attend any of the sessions on the 100 city tour let us know what you think!

Industry trends and vendor spotlights from Beth Gold-Bernstein.

Beth Gold-Bernstein

Beth Gold-Bernstein is a recognized expert in integration technologies and SOA with over 20 years experience View more

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