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Part One: Knowing the Beast

One of the most complex and dramatic characters of a circus is the animal trainer; one who can face a bevy of threats when dealing with a strong and wily beast, like a tiger. Think of the tiger as an example of the circus'raison d'etre. In information technology, the tiger is that most promising platform for applications: Service Oriented Architecture.

The tiger is a dynamic, powerful, complex, living organism; comprising integrated systems, just like a SOA environment. Applications are the lifeblood of a business. You wouldn’t let your toddler wander around in the cage with an unmanaged tiger; why would you risk your business by letting your applications run in an unmanaged SOA environment?

The tiger (SOA environment) is dependent on the trainer for its care, feeding, and well being. The trainer (user) depends on the tiger to behave in expected, predictable, and consistent ways. If there's a hint of inconsistency in the tiger's behavior or reactions, the trainer better be able to spot it and react fast or lose body parts.

If the tiger has been distracted by ladies in large straw hats or sudden loud noises in the past, it's crucial for the trainer to know this. If a straw-hat lady walks in or if a thunderstorm comes up, he must be prepared to proactively deal with these events with a combination of real-time and historical trend data to take preventive action before the tiger runs amok

While information systems are the lifeblood of an enterprise, even the seemingly simplest of applications (like buying or selling shares of stock) may depend on many, different streams of information. They must not merely handle these streams of information efficiently, but also intelligently and within the appropriate compliance requirements.

The value of information is negatively affected by age, as measured in fractions of seconds. More importantly, it can also be valued according to its source. Both the timeliness and source of information depend upon a complex stream of raw data from trading partners, RSS news feeds, financial data from news sources, the Federal Reserve and perhaps even weather information.


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