Gartner AADI: Funding SOA

The Power Breakfast is over and done. If you saw me there, hopefully you got something out of the conversation, although it was unfortunate that the session wound up being four independent case studies without a lot of time for audience questions, rather than a discussion among the panelists and the audience. Despite this fact, there were some good points that came out, and I wanted to highlight the ones that struck home with me here:

  • First, as the preliminary results of the SOA Consortium funding survey have indicated, there’s no uniform initial approach to SOA. Some leverage an SOA program, some expect service development out of existing projects, etc. One of the panelists, Leo Schuster from National Bank, indicated that they had an SOA Program. In my experience, I’ve never encountered a funded program whose sole goal was to produce SOA. I’ve always worked with business projects/programs that wanted to leverage services as part of their efforts. Personally, I prefer the latter, because as Victor Harrison from CSC pointed out, programs end. Will your SOA efforts ever stop? They shouldn’t. So, while you may have solved the initial funding problem, you haven’t solved the ongoing funding problem.
  • Second, metrics are critical. Every single one of us mentioned metrics. Without them, how can we say that we’ve accomplished anything? The oft-mentioned notion of agility is frequently associated with the time to deliver a particular solution. To show that we’re more agile, we need metrics of how things have been and how things are in the future. Beyond efficiency metrics, there’s also metrics associated with service consumption: number of consumers, usage by consumers, min/avg/max response time, etc. In my own experience, merely making these metrics available, and now at a finer level of granularity than the entry points into a web application were very beneficial. This visibility didn’t exist before, so anything was better than nothing. If you’re already collecting this, now you can start to do baseline comparisons to show improvement.
  • Third, service ownership is key. It was great to hear someone else say that the project-based culture of IT can be in impediment to SOA success. While your SOA shouldn’t have a lifecycle, individual services do have a lifecycle. If you simply have someone who is responsible for service lifecycle management, you’ve got the key piece of the puzzle for many of the discussions around service granularity, funding, etc. If you don’t have a service owner independent of the consumers, then each consumer is going to try to push things in the direction that has the most benefit for their project, but yet no one will own the service. This in-fighting can be very detrimental to SOA.
  • Finally, lets get Service Portfolio Management (SPM) right from the get-go. There are many sessions here at the summit concerned about application portfolio management. We’re all behind the eight-ball here as all of these applications have been built/bought over 5, 10, 15, 25, … years without anyone managing them as a whole. The last thing we want to do is repeat the process all over again with services. We’re at the early stages of SOA and can now do it right. Anyone saying that they don’t need a registry/repository yet because they haven’t reached “critical mass” is potentially making a big mistake. They only need to look at their struggles in trying to do application portfolio management as an example of the path they are heading down.

To those who got up early for breakfast and attended, I hope you found some nuggets in the presentation that were valuable from me or from the other speakers. I’d be happy to have followup conversations with anyone who felt like their questions are still unanswered, or those who want more depth on some of the things they heard.

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