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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action


BPM & SOA: Together or Separate?

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This issue has been bouncing around ebizQ and the blogosphere as of late, and I thought it might be interesting to compile everything that's been said into one blog.

ebizQ ran this question in the BPM Forum, Do You Think BPM and SOA Are Going to Merge?.

Michael Poulin started it off with: In short, my answer is YES. However, this will happen (in a matter of next 3-5 years) in the form that IT does not anticipate (this is my guess).

JP Morgenthal countered with: This question further exemplifies the misunderstanding over what BPM and SOA are. BPM is a practice focused optimizing your business processes based on your business mission. In this way, you might optimize around cost, speed, etc. SOA is about rationalization of the application portfolio through service-orientation.

John Michelsen
stated: BPM is a natural entry point for SOA, and since SOA should be driven by business needs, you will only see this become more prevalent.

Mike Kavis sided with JP, only with this caveat: I agree with JP that BPM and SOA are two different things. However, I think one of the biggest reasons for SOA failures is the lack of focus on business driven initiatives in favor of technology driven initiatives.

Miko Matsumura
offered this: I propose that a good way of looking at it may be that BPM and SOA are getting married. Clearly when two people get married, they dont "merge" and that there is a danger in thinking of them as one person.

Altogether, in 12 responses, the yeahs and neahs tied up at 6. Looks like a Silicon Valley standoff. JP Morgenthal followed with this blog, Keep Your SOA and BPM Initiatives Separate.

Jignesh Shah wrote: Combining SOA and BPM initiatives into a single program is not necessary - or even possible in many cases. They are driven by different players with varying goals as you pointed out. However, 'alignment' of SOA and BPM initiatives results in considerable benefits to both.

While it starts as a NO, I think it should count as a YES. Yes 7, No 6. Next up...

Geoffrey Meissner wrote: I must agree that BPM and SOA are two very powerful tools that arose in the same timeframe. HOWEVER, I must disagree that they shouldn't be more closely tied.

Yes jumps into the lead at 8 to 6. Next we have:

Gagan Saxena: Maintaining and managing a library of Services is distinct from managing a set of Business Processes, but the two efforts need to talk back and forth to minimize wasted effort and time to market.

The lead is closing, with the score now 8 to 7.

The final group of comments runs the board with 5 Yeahs in a row, summarized by:

Tony C: So if SOA isn't the automation framework required for automating BPM, what are the alternatives? (silence deafens).

Final tally:

SOA & BPM Together: 13
SOA & BPM Separate: 7

But let's give the last word to JP:

JP Morgenthal: The business is SOA's #1 customer. Some SOA efforts may support a BPM initiative, but it also might just support business partner integration or portfolio rationalization, which results in lower TCO. While the two can share some common goals, venn diagram wise, each stands alone with a small percentage of overlap.

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Business process management and optimization -- philosophies, policies, practices, and punditry.

Anne Stuart

I am the editor of ebizQ.

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