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03/20/2008 Transcript: Identifying and Federating Today's SOA Power Centers Through Enterprise Service Buses Gold Club Protected

Participants in this Webinar include Joe McKendrick, author of ebizQ's SOA in Action Blog, and Leif Davidsen, manager of WebSphere SOA Marketing for IBM. This transcript has been edited in parts for clarity.

Joe McKendrick: Okay. Welcome everyone. Today's ebizQ Webinar in which we explore the latest trends in SOA integration. I'm Joe McKendrick, author of ebizQ's SOA in Action blog and an independent industry analyst. You can also find me over at the ZDNet SOA blog site. You may have seen some of my stuff there. I'm pleased to be joined for this Webcast by Leif Davidsen, manager of WebSphere SOA Marketing for IBM. Welcome Leif.

Leif Davidsen: Hi, Joe and thank you.

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JM: And Leif, you're over at the Hursley Park Labs for IBM, is that right in UK?

LD: Yes, the Hursley Park Labs home of products like MQ, Message Broker, and of course, for many, many years CICS, CICS Transaction Processor.

JM: Fantastic, the home of CICS, yes. And today's Webinar is titled Identifying and Federating Today's SOA Power Centers through Enterprise Service Buses and we'll be reviewing these results of a new survey commissioned by IBM and conducted by the analysts at ebizQ. You'll see my name as well as that of Beth Gold-Bernstein, who played a project management role in the survey.

The survey covered adoption rates within the middleware space of SOA and Leif and I will be discussing the survey and providing examples of implementations that Leif has seen among IBM customers. And I also want to remind everyone that all attendees to the live session will receive a copy of the survey results. And as our way of adding value by coupling independent research with IBM's deep expertise in this subject.

Okay. We're going to start off by discussing what we mean by “enterprise service bus”. The exact meaning and purpose of ESBs has generated quite a bit of disagreement and confusion, if you will, across the industry over the past few years since the term and the concept first came on the scene a few years back. Typically, if you ask 20 analysts what an ESB is, you'll get 20 answers and vendors also have their own interpretations of what ESB means.

Now to many, you can't even take the first steps into SOA enablement without an ESB to integrate various messaging and data formats. To others, however, ESBs have a questionable role in the organization. I've heard it compared to the human appendix -- saying that it serves some kind of mysterious temporary purpose that's there as a result of some evolutionary cycle, but in the long rule it's just taking up space and its painful to have removed. I had an appendectomy back when I was a kid so I know how disruptive that kind of removal can be.

Many vendors don't even call their ESBs solutions ESBs. Often, you hear them called message brokers, integration platforms or application servers. Up to a couple of years ago, if you went up to the campus of a certain large software company in Redmond, an enterprise service bus was that vehicle that got you around the campus. Now, for purposes of this survey, since these definitions are so fluid and often debated, we didn't want to limit our responses because of labels so we went with an expanded definition merging enterprise service buses, message brokers and integration platforms into a single category.

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We also addressed ESBs as a term straight on as well. But this combined product category, ESB service intermediaries encompass solutions that serve to enable and prioritize the convergence of messages in various formats into a standardized format. They provide a platform that enable enterprises to coordinate security policy, and quality of service, and process integrity polices.

Now Leif, why do exactly would an enterprise need an ESB? Let's get to the heart of this. Isn't it possible to get started with Web services and SOA without a mediator in the middle?

LD: Well, that's obviously a question that many people come to when they start. Here you are, you're a developer, and you are looking to create an IT infrastructure problem and so you go and you code a solution to that problem. And that's to be fair, that's been how developers have gone after solutions to the problems that businesses have been asking them to do for many years.

And that's when you get the sort of same type of solution architectures that we see on the left-hand side of the chart off up on the screen in a moment. You get this rat's nest of architectures because while connecting, there's never a problem connecting up two points; it's a simple straight line. The issue comes when you're looking to connect up more and more points and then you make changes.

What we've seen in IBM is the layers of complexity just grow over time as people make changes to their business applications. And that complexity does keep adding problems to the business not only when it wants to make future changes, but in just trying to do any regular maintenance to that. And of course, it means that that processes become very hard bound, very inflexible, very rigid and you know rigidity is bad for businesses in today's business economy.

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Now, if we look a little bit deeper at the picture underneath this sort of rat's nest of how we want to actually implement that nice flexible process we see on the right-hand side, we can actually see the connections between application interfaces is the real problem here. You got all this business logic that, obviously, sits in your applications, and the applications are what is trying to get to grips with your corporate data so that's actually driving your business.

And because you got so many interconnected applications in your business that have grown up with individual linkages, you get this mess and enterprise service buses is there to address that. Now, going back to your original question, do you need an enterprise service bus? If you're starting with two Web services, clearly an ESB can be seen as an overhead.

However, what an ESB does at its very heart is it provides a dedicated piece of infrastructure to allow you to actually create all of the connectivity definitions in a very managed and controlled way so that even if you did have just two applications, you might well say, well, it might be overkill but I know that I'm going to have more than two applications, or I know that things are going to change and therefore it's going to be more of a best practice to do it in -- define any interfaces and any connectivity in an ESB because then I know where it'll be, it'll be easy to find, manage and maintain.

In the same way that if on writing a piece of code, do I need an application server? Well, you might not think you do but in fact, it's a useful piece of technology to have as you start to apply it across your business. So I think we see that enterprise service buses certainly have a place. Perhaps the appendix doesn't it in the human body, but until we discover something better an ESB today acts as a really strong way to logically define, managed, and run the conductivity between both your services and your non-services part for the business so handing back to you.

JM: Okay. Great, thanks. Well, in order to find out exactly what kind are rat's nest exist out there in enterprises and what they're doing to address these problems, and the role of ESBs and integration brokers, or mediators play in helping to address the situation, the ebizQs analyst including myself teamed up with IBM to conduct a survey on this very issue.

The survey was fairly recently conducted during the month of January. We had a 21-question online survey instrument that queried respondents about SOA and their related messaging strategies. The survey was promoted through to ebizQ members through the website, and newsletters, e-mail blasts, and as a prize the participants were had their names placed in a drawing to win an Apple iPhone.

And in addition, all survey participants were promised the copy of the survey results which the listeners out there will also be receiving. And we had a total of 244 companies responding to the survey. And just to give you a picture of who or what those companies were like, we had a fairly broad cross section in terms of company sizes. As you see on the chart here, we had a large chunk of companies with more than a billion dollars in annual revenues.

We also had a sizeable part of our survey base consisting of what may be considered small companies with less than $100 million a year in annual revenues. Looking at the industry profile, this is a pretty comprehensive chart but just to let you know what's on there, we had a lot of involvement from financial services companies, computer services in the industry also participated as we as insurance companies, and manufacturers. A total of 33 industries had participated.

And I'd also like to point out that a large group of respondents were either management, or they were enterprise, or software architects. Eighteen percent were enterprise architects, 12% software architects, and 17% were from the business side of the equation, business managers. Now this is encouraging since you often hear that SOA is still too focused or concentrated on the IT side of the house, and that the business really doesn't get SOA yet.

Next Webinar With Leif Davidsen: Using SOA for Maximum Reuse and Increased Business Agility:
Date/Time: April 9 at noon ET
Join Leif and his IBM colleague Jim Douglas as they review why companies should invest in maximizing their reuse of IT assets, how they can benefit from this across their business and throughout the investment lifecycle and what solutions to consider.
Click here to learn more register

The fact that close to one out five respondents were executives or line of business managers and users, as I said, is an encouraging sign that SOA is entering the mainstream, the corporate mainstream. As I said, one of the things we're focusing on in the survey is determining the overall state of SOA. We found that most SOA efforts at this time are scattered across multiple business units are project-based developments and integration teams.

We're going to go into that in a few seconds. And we also found that it's still in the early days for SOA rollout in businesses. As we'll show you later on, there's a fragmented approach and lack of control. This makes sense given that many early SOA efforts start at small pilot projects and proofs of concept and we're still in the early days of the SOA dynamic. And as SOA evolves over the longer term, we expect to see more -- the issues around lack of control, the fragmentation around across enterprise to become more problematic.

To read the rest of this transcript, sign in with your free ebizQ Gold Club membership below.

07/02/2007 Full Transcript: Gartner's Bill Gassman on How BI Drives Business Performance Gold Club Protected

Beth Gold-BernsteinBeth Gold Bernstein: Hello, everyone! And welcome to the ebizQ BI in Action Virtual Conference. I'm Beth Gold-Bernstein, director of the ebizQ Training Center and chair of the conference.

It's my great pleasure to welcome Bill Gassman, research director of Gartner. Welcome, Bill!

Bill GassmanBill Gassman: Thank you, Beth. And thanks everyone for attending this Webinar about business intelligence in driving business performance. I'm going to focus on how to achieve a successful BI program within your organization. Managing the performance of a business is a critical part of keeping a business competitive. In a robust business intelligence framework, decisions that impact the business in a positive way are going to be easier to make.

Business intelligence isn't new but it's an evolving area of information technology where many organizations struggle to achieve even a basic level of maturity. Without maturity, it's difficult to take advantage of the exciting new technologies that are coming down the pike.

I hope that after viewing this Webinar, you're able to come to a better understanding of what BI can offer and think about how your organization can improve its ability to deliver business intelligence to those that need it. In a Gartner survey of more than 1400 chief information officers -- this was published in February, 2007 -- we asked if the management of our company had the right information to run their business. Sixty-four percent said no and only 34 percent, 36 percent said yes. This is a bit scary! Each year, billions of dollars are spent on BI software and another few billion for the people and the hardware to run it.

So what's going on here? What are these people doing? We believe that the survey results are due to a number of things. First, while CIOs are usually responsible for the corporate data warehouse, only 40 percent are responsible for making sure the information is treated as a strategic asset and improving the knowledge worker productivity. In other words, corporate data is all dressed up, but there's nowhere to go. There's been a disconnect between the technical side of BI and the business side of BI.

Just look around your organization to see how many are using Excel with unqualified data to make decisions. And second, and this is a related point, with so much emphasis on building the data warehouse, there really hasn't been the time or the budget to build the business intelligence applications. But we do see that problem starting to be addressed.

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Another question in the CIO survey was business intelligence -- what was going to be the top priority of technology in your organization? And business intelligence application emerged as the top.

The investments that organizations have made in their infrastructure over the past five years puts them in a position to have that investment pay off in delivering business value. There's a good chance that your competition is part of that 64 percent, where the information to make the best decisions is not available. This may be a good opportunity here if your organization has a good BI program in place. But the opportunity could turn into a threat if building BI applications doesn't remain a top priority. So those that have seen this and are starting to invest in catching up with business intelligence, we're seeing them invest more than 10 percent of their software project on BI applications alone. So there's some really good news here.

This presentation looks into three key issues around business intelligence. First, how do organizations leverage information for making decisions and improving business performance? I'll describe how the term "BI" is evolving and give a few examples of how companies are doing it well. And then we're going to look into some trends. And the second key issue: what are the cornerstones of a business intelligence and performance management strategy? I could spend all day on this topic, but since we have a limited amount of time, I'm going to give some of the highlights of what we think is important there. And third, what are the five-year trends that you should be looking for? I'll rate some of the BI technologies and because this is a Webinar that is leading up to Gartner's Event Processing conference coming September in Orlando, I'm going to give a glimpse on how event processing, business intelligence and business process management are all coming together to create a real-time enterprise. And then I'll close with some bottom-line thoughts and some recommendations.

Leveraging information and improving performance

So, okay -- let's get on here to the first key issue. Business intelligence is not just a particular technology or product. And it's not about insights or a single version of the truth. It's an umbrella term that defines a broad range of applications, technologies and methodologies. The purpose of BI is to give users access to information and to analyze information so that users can make better decisions and manage the company's performance.

In order for business intelligence to be viewed as a success, the information and the analysis that is actually used must be actionable, it must be auditable, and the associated decisions that are made must have an impact on the performance of the company that's in line with the plans and the objections. In other words, just having a data warehouse isn't good enough. The supply and the use of BI has to become a core business competency that drives the business from the strategic level down to the process level.

The idea that business intelligence is a task for the IT department alone is just wrong! Leading companies have figured this out and have married information and strategy to achieve top business performance. Every year, the magazine Business Week selects its top performers. Each company is evaluated on a broad range of criteria. For example, the one and three year total return. The sales growth, profit, and so forth. We look a look at the annual report and the SEC financial statements from some of Business Week's leading companies and we found clear evidence that BI is part of their strategy from the top down.

So, for example: from the hardware store Lowe's annual reports. I'm quoting directly here. "We are continuously assessing and upgrading our information systems to support growth of our new sales initiatives, control costs and enable better decision making." The investments in BI are being done with a purpose. That is to manage the performance of the company, and as clearly stated, right to the company's investors.

Here is another example. WellPoint is a healthcare provider. And in its 10K annual report files at SEC, they stated "our business depends significantly on effective information, our ability to correlate pharmacy data and medical management data allows us to provide important information to our members, physicians and other providers which enable them to more effectively manage these conditions." So, we all know that there are many opportunities to improve the quality and the cost of healthcare and with the use of business intelligence, WellPoint knows that their business depends on it, so they use it. They even go as far as delivering BI to their customers.

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04/26/2007 Full Transcript of Podcast with IBM's Billy Newport Gold Club Protected

Welcome to another "First Look" podcast. I'm your host, ebizQ's Project Manager, Gian Trotta. Joining us today is Billy Newport, IBM's senior technical staff member, chief architect for WebSphere XD ObjectGrid. He's going to discuss the implementation challenges and application benefits of data grid architecture. Welcome, Billy, and thanks for joining us.

Billy Newport: Thanks a lot, it's great to be here.

Gian Trotta: Billy, what exactly is a data grid and what advantage can it confer on an Enterprise?

BN: Conventional applications have been built in kind of multiple tiers, where you have a data tier and an application tier. And those kinds of architectures have served us well over the years. But recently, in some kinds of environments with the kind of work loads, the way they have been increasing -- those application architectures have kind of been showing their age. We're now seeing kind of a transition to data grid-type architectures where instead of pulling the application data from the data base, what we're seeing a trend through now is integrating the application with the data, so that the data is co-resident with the application. And then we scale out the application and grid technology.

To hear the rest of this podcast, a free ebizQ Gold Club membership is required. Registration is quick and easy and gives you access to dozens of high-value features like this one.


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