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Full Transcript: Randy Heffner Previews His SOA in Action Keynote


First Look with Forrester's Randy Heffner

Listen to the entire 8:53 podcast Download file

This podcast is a preview of Randy's upcoming hour-long SOA in Action Webinar to be held on October 31st.

Gian TrottaGT: Welcome to a very special ebizQ podcast. I'm your host, ebizQ's Gian Trotta. Our guest today is Forrester Research's Randy Heffner, who is here to preview his "Building a Strategic and Tactical Platform for SOA" keynote address in our SOA in Action Virtual Conference set for October 31. Welcome, Randy, and thanks for joining us.

RH: Thanks, Gian, for having me!

GT: Okay! Randy, on Halloween -- perhaps fittingly -- you'll be talking about the strategy and tactics of SOA. What are some of the tricks a company should avoid?

Randy HeffnerRH: A big one is the trick that Web services and SOA are the same thing. This leads people onto a series of other pitfalls and tricks, so instead, view SOA as a broad set of design concepts centering on your major business processes and transactions and view Web services as one set of application-to-application communication protocols by which to access your services — a very important one, because of its broad industry ecosystem and XML-based flexibility, but native protocols are an important part of SOA, too.

Following on this, is the trick that SOA is a technology thing – a way to get better application integration. And that's true, and it is important, but it's a small view of SOA. Much more important are the many reports that we get at Forrester about SOA as a business design thing that enables strategic business transformation and creates flexibility to continually optimize your business processes. That's the more important view and more strategic view and high-value view of SOA.

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And then I'd highlight the vendor trick that you must buy many new products and spend lots of money to do SOA. While it's true that you may eventually buy enterprise services buses and SOA management and repositories and appliances and such, you may well be able to get started on SOA and achieve strong business benefits without buying anything new. I often talk to companies that have started just this way and gotten a lot of value out of SOA.

GT: Right! There it seems like you're headed about talking the treats, especially in the current categories of SOA infrastructure products.

RH: Yes, yes. Well, there are definitely the treats there. But these SOA specialty products will turn into tricks if you're not ready for them or if you use them in the wrong way — based on SOA theory rather than with a strong and clear need. So, having said that, some of the treats: Like the real treat within an SOA registry repository solution is not the registry, but the workflow and the service lifecycle tools around the repository. These provide a start on getting to the heart of what makes SOA successful, which is strong governance focused on business service portfolio management, and on what makes a repository successful, which is achieving the right organizational maturity and discipline to use a repository in the right way.

If you look at SOA and Web services management, then the treat is the deep visibility into the service implementation layer. If you have an SOA management product that looks only at service requests and responses, as some products do, then you're left in the lurch when you have to figure out what's actually going wrong with your services: What's happening beneath at the Java component or .Net component layer, or maybe it's your service is slow because of what's going on in the database. You've got to figure out the problem at the lower level.

The treats within an enterprise service bus can vary greatly because the products vary greatly. But the major thing is that you've got a unified access point for accessing your services, which allows you to provide unified control over how your services are accessed and how routing and other specifications might be handled. SOA appliances can give you the treat of accelerated processing of complex XML and XML cryptography and they can play an important role in securing external access to your services. And they can provide a nice clean package for dropping in SOA security into a targeted situation or scenario.

And then -- finally -- SOA testing tools give you the benefit of strong and repeatable testing, which is critical as you evolve and upgrade your services for a wide range of service consumers.

GT: Right. That's understood. I think you covered just about every part of the SOA stack. And any special areas you'll key on in your keynote?

RH: What we'll talk about in that presentation is focusing on the strategic view of your SOA platform. So, in some sense, starting with a more theoretical view in, "Well, what are we aiming at? What do we want to get to with our strategic SOA platform?" and perhaps even a view that some vendors would tell you should start trying to build right now. But the problem is how you get there, especially when you have several different SOA-based projects with conflicting application platforms and different requirements and priorities for the SOA functions that they need out of the infrastructure.

And, how do you put all that together? It demands that you have a strong model for your future SOA platform so that's why we start there. But then you have to move towards that model by leveraging each project as a tactical step in a longer-term evolution towards that strategic platform. So in that session, I'll give the audience an overall view of what a strategic SOA platform is, what its major functions are, how some of the product categories of SOA infrastructure are playing out. And how your existing software infrastructure fits into an SOA platform and then provide some key pointers on how to craft a tactical evolution towards that strategic platform.

GT: That's excellent. That's an excellent 30-second summary, Randy, and -- of what will be an hour-long presentation. And that we very much look forward to. Where on your site or the Forrester site can our listeners go for more information?

RH: The best place to go is to my analyst home page and from there, you can look at, you know, various speaking opportunities and get a link to the list of documents and reports that I've published. And so I'll read off the URL here and then spell it because it's got a little tricky part in the middle of it. But it's www.Forrester.com/RB/analyst/Randy_Heffner. So that's Forrester, F-O-R-R-E-S-T-E-R dot com, slash RB, as in Ralph Baker, slash analyst, just the word, slash R-A-N-D-Y-underscore, H-E-F-F-N-E-R.

GT: That's excellent, Randy. Can't ask for more detail than that! I want to thank you for taking time from a busy schedule. You're in Stockholm today, correct?

RH: Yep. It's cooling off a bit here vs Texas, where I'm based.

GT: I was going to say, I know that air conditioning season in Texas lasts till Thanksgiving. I assume they've put their AC's away in Stockholm?

RH: Ah, yes. And where they have them even, I guess, they probably don't have them everywhere.

GT: That's good! Anyway, we'll be back. We'll see you hopefully a nice sunny Halloween day here, virtually with our audience. And I just want to say thanks again!

RH: Well, thanks! And I guess on Halloween, we'll see what the SOA monsters have for us then.

GT: And the Great SOA Pumpkin!

RH: There you are!

GT: Okay, Randy! Listeners who wish to follow with Randy during his interactive Webinar presentation here can register for our free SOA in Action show at http://www.SOAinaction.com. Until then, this is ebizQ's Gian Trotta signing off and wishing you all the best.

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