Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

Using SOA to Untangle Spaghetti Oriented Architecture

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"We’ve reached a point of maturity in the IT industry where we’ve pretty much automated everything. We need to take a look back and see what’s happened, examine the carnage or whatever happened in the hurry-up phase and see what needs to be fixed."

-Eric Newcomer, CTO of IONA Technologies

As part of our InfoWorld SOA Executive Forum series, I had the chance to speak with Eric Newcomer, an influential voice in the Web services and SOA worlds. (The podcast is available for download here.)

Eric, who first cut his teeth in the CORBA world in the 1990s, has seen it all by now -- the tangled messes of point solutions for every perceived problem, all expensive, and all ensnared across countless incompatible silos in enterprises.

SOA can help unravel these complex, overbuilt Spaghetti-Oriented Architectures, he says. But only if enterprises take a fresh new approach to the problem. After three decades of spending on IT "without really knowing how that spend contributed to the bottom line or overall business strategy, companies now want a scientific approach to calculating the cost of reuse and allowing multiple clients to access the same service or backends via service abstraction," Eric notes.

In the past, "hurry-up phase" of automation, decisions were decentralized around the technologies used and how they were run and staffed, rather than around the entire enterprise architecture.

SOA involves "realigning all those old boundaries, changing how projects are done and supervised," Eric says. "Nobody really needs a lot more features and functions; everybody's paid for a lot of software over the past decade they don't even use -- and nobody can do that again."

Instead, companies "need an incremental, cost-effective way to insert some minimal technology into the current environment that helps service-enable the investments they've already made over the past few decades."

The key is to be able to "reduce the upfront costs of getting started with SOA and allowing people to build up their infrastructure in a good distributed way as they build up their project," Eric says ."Companies are expecting their IT departments to adopt something such as SOA within the current budget envelope. Companies need to implement SOA incrementally, in a step-by-step, economically controlled fashion, so that their investments in software to enable their services are keeping pace with their ability to spend."

In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more

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