Vertical Service Architectures

We’re beginning to see some movement around vertical service architectures, or better put, the creation of reference service architectures for particular business domains. For example, back in April, HP had a press release announcing “Industry-specific Service-oriented Architectures.” Last week, on August 3rd, IBM announced the acquisition of Webify. Rich Seeley of stated that Robert LeBlanc, general manager of IBM WebSphere Software, characterized a vertical focus as the next generation of SOA.

I remember back about 7 years ago when I was introduced to TogetherJ. A colleague had Peter Coad’s book, Java Modeling in Color with UML. Coad’s gave example models across a wide variety of business areas. While modeling the internals of the systems may not be as useful, as this is likely to vary widely by enterprises. What may not vary as much, are the services that expose the functions of the major components of the enterprise. This is where this new wave of vertical service architectures may have some legs. Companies will be free to implement the services however they want, but the identification of what services, at least some good subset to get started, are needed can be provided in the form of reference architectures. I’m not an industry analyst, so I don’t have the luxury of having seen many enterprises, but my gut tells me that if you compare two retail organizations or two health care organizations, the core services they require are going to be very similar. Differentiation can be made by the implementation of these services, the management of them, and the remaining 20% of services that aren’t typical of all organizations in that vertical.

This starts to imply that there is a range of commodity services that could have wide applicability and are likely not business differentiators, at least not in the sense that you have them. It’s more about how you use them. To that end, it would be great to see community efforts that address some of these domains. I’ve previously blogged about SOA for education. How many elementary, middle, or high schools do you know that have enterprise architects? How many of them even have any dedicated IT staff at all? Often times, it may be the computer instruction who is also acting as architect and operations support. My daughter’s school has a volunteer technology advisory board made up of parents with IT backgrounds that try to assist in the school’s technology efforts. I’ve logged many hours helping them with varied tasks like web site support and the installation of their WeatherBug station. Largely, however, all of the efforts are handled by Mrs. Lewis, who also happens to be teaching all of the kids about computers all day long. It would be great if we technologists, whether analysts, developers, architects, support, etc., could use of skills to help out in the community on these technology related items of our own good will.

Speaking of good will, James McGovern, is one enterprise architect who has posted a few times on giving back to the community, whether through his efforts to teach programming to high schoolers, or now to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I applaud James for his efforts and encourage others to do the same. While it may not be development of vertical SOAs for medical research foundations, it’s still the right thing. I will make sure that the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is on my charitable donation list for this year.

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One Response to “Vertical Service Architectures”

  • […] Something I’ve blogged about in the past is vertical SOAs, even wondering the role they’ll have in the consulting world. Today, I listened to a podcast from Dana Gardner on IT Shared Services with two reps from HP. I’ve only learned a little bit about ITIL, but this podcast has me wondering whether ITIL is the vertical SOA for running IT. So, two questions out there for my friends in the blogosphere, especially other enterprise architects that have an interest in management technologies and SOA for IT. […]

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