SOA Consortium

The SOA Consortium recently gave a webinar that presented their Top 5 Insights based upon a series of executive summaries they conducted. Richard Mark Soley, Executive Director of the SOA Consortium, and Brenda Michelson of Elemental Links were the presenters.

A little background. The SOA Consortium is a new SOA advocacy group. As Richard Soley put it during the webinar, they are not a standards body, however, they could be considered a source of requirements for the standards organizations. I’m certainly a big fan of SOA advocacy and sharing information, if that wasn’t already apparent. Interestingly, they are a time-boxed organization, and have set an end date of 2010. That’s a very interesting approach, especially for a group focused on advocacy. It makes sense, however, as the time box represents a commitment. 12 practitioners have publicly stated their membership, along with the four founding sponsors, and two analyst firms.

What makes this group interesting is that they are interested in promoting business-driven SOA, and dispelling the notion that SOA is just another IT thing. Richard had a great anecdote of one CIO that had just finished telling the CEO not to worry about SOA, that it was an IT thing and he would handle it, only to attend one of their executive summits and change course.

The Top 5 insights were:

  1. No artificial separation of SOA and BPM. The quote shown in the slides was, “SOA, BPM, Lean, Six Sigma are all basically on thing (business strategy & structure) that must work side by side.” They are right on the button on this one. The disconnect between BPM efforts and SOA efforts within organizations has always mystified me. I’ve always felt that the two go hand in hand. It makes no sense to separate them.
  2. Success requires business and IT collaboration. The slide deck presented a before and after view, with the after view showing a four-way, bi-directional relationship between business strategy, IT strategy, Enterprise Architecture, and Business Architecture. Two for two. Admittedly, as a big SOA (especially business-driven SOA) advocate, this is a bit of preaching to the choir, but it’s great to see a bunch of CIOs and CTOs getting together and publicly stating this for others to share.
  3. On the IT side, SOA must permeate the organization. They recommend the use of a Center of Excellence at startup, which over times shifts from a “doing” responsibility to a “mentoring” responsibility, eventually dissolving. Interestingly, that’s exactly what the consortium is trying to do. They’re starting out with a bunch of people who have had significant success with SOA, who are now trying to share their lessons learned and mentor others, knowing that they’ll disband in 2010. I think Centers of Excellence can be very powerful, especially in something that requires the kind of cultural change that SOA will. Which leads to the next point.
  4. There are substantial operational impacts, but little industry emphasis. As we’ve heard time and time again, SOA is something you do, not something you buy. There are some great quotes in the deck. I especially liked the one that discussed the horizontal nature of SOA operations, in contrast to the vertical nature (think monolithic application) of IT operations today. The things concerning these executives are not building services, but versioning, testing, change management, etc. I’ve blogged a number of times on the importance of these factors in SOA, and it was great to hear others say the same thing.
  5. SOA is game changing for application providers. We’ve certainly already seen this in action with activities by SAP, Oracle, and others. What was particularly interesting in the webinar was that while everyone had their own opinion on how the game will change, all agreed that it will change. Personally, I thought these comments were very consistent with a post I made regarding outsourcing a while back. My main point was that SOA, on its own, may not increase or decrease outsourcing, but it should allow more appropriate decisions and hopefully, a higher rate of success. I think this applies to both outsourcing, as well as to the use of packaged solutions installed within the firewall.

Overall, this was a very interesting and insightful webinar. You can register and listen to a replay of it here. I look forward to more things to come from this group.

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5 Responses to “SOA Consortium”

  • Vertical thinking doesn’t have to equate to monolithic implementation. How about vertical standards that work across the enterprises? This would be a more interesting conversation. Consider for example if you wanted to get an auto insurance quote, why shouldn’t you be able to have the same exact WSDL as a consumer across hundreds of insurance carriers…

  • Todd – thanks for writing about our findings. Like you, I was glad to hear the conversation go to points 1 & 2. Expect to hear a lot more about those from the SOA Consortium.

    James – I agree that it would be powerful to have consistent (standardized) services definitions within an industry vertical. The vertical nature in the point above is from this quote:

    “If you truly have an SOA, you have a lot of services, you find a lot of shared services, you have a composite application environment which is very different than managing a vertical environment.�

    The CIO was referring to the added complexities of managing/operating a shared environment, across organizational verticals (silos). As you know, everything is smooth until a change is introduced.

  • Thanks for the comments James & Brenda. James, as Brenda called out, the context of the quote was about the management of the systems.
    That being said, I completely agree on the use of vertical standards. Ones I’ve run into have included FIX/FIXML, ACORD, and OTA. The challenge, however, is getting something identical across many carriers. Typically, these standards are extensible, and every company has tweaked them just a bit for their own internal needs. Whether or not that renders it incompatible is the question.

  • [...] We also look into the recent announcement of the SOA Consortium, a group of both vendors and enterprises, was created in February to promote the adoption of SOA. We examine the agenda and consider the outcomes. Here are some excerpts: [...]

  • [...] We also look into the recent announcement of the SOA Consortium, a group of both vendors and enterprises, was created in February to promote the adoption of SOA. We examine the agenda and consider the outcomes. Here are some excerpts: [...]

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