[ I’ve been a bit distracted over the past few weeks and haven’t been able to post much. Who knew that just coordinating to put a new roof on your house could be so time consuming (that doesn’t make me look forward to the actual ‘put on’ process). ]
It’s a common notion that things happen in threes. So when I see the same theme three times in a short period I see that as the universe telling me something. Recently, it was telling me about how to make SOA happen.
First, William Henry, a colleague of mine at IONA, found an interesting article that talks about How Sun Sells Its SOA Dog Food To Its Own Employees. While that article is a bit confusing with regards to it’s spin on Sun’s SOA solution (hard to tell if it’s author is positive or negative about Suns JCAPS) the real intent is to talk about how to present SOA to the end user. The article quotes a Senior Manager for Integration Services at Sun regarding how he talks to his internal customers about using the Sun SOA solution to enable re-use within Sun’s IT infrastructure and remove stove pipe applications. The key take away from this article is that even within a large IT Vendor, the people that own IT systems can’t always see the value of SOA. And when they do see the values (i.e., reuse, lower costs, agility) it’s hard for them to want to do SOA.
Second, another IONA colleague and I were talking about funding models for SOA. There are a number of customers that we are working with right now who are in the early stages of a SOA deployment or reaching the first release of a SOA infrastructure. Each of these customers tend to use a hybrid funding approach for SOA. A combination of ‘corporate money’ given to a centralized IT organization to jump start a SOA initiative as well as ‘project money’ or ‘LOB money’ that is used to fund the growth, maintenance, and ongoing support of the SOA initiative by the centralized IT organization. However, even with a funding model in place, a common theme across all these customers is that you need to have a top down driver for SOA within an enterprise to really gain enterprise wide adoption and receive enterprise wide value from any SOA initiative.
Third, today I read a great writeup on the Momentum SI Service Oriented Architecture blog about Talking to the Business about SOA. Jeff from Momentum SI provides a good overview of the fact that when talking to businesses about SOA, you need to talk to your current audience. Any SOA initiative at an enterprise level will cross multiple business areas within the company. Jeff does a good job of describing the differences of key business areas and how you need to keep these differences in mind when talking to them about SOA. I do see one interesting theme underlying all of the business areas discussed…a corporate drive for SOA.
To me, all three of these items point to a single fact: that there needs to be a corporate level driver for SOA in order to truly see the long term value and benefits of a SOA initiative. That doesn’t mean that SOA initiatives can’t be done in small incremental bites, but those bites will only happen if the mid-level person driving them has the political clout over peers to make them happen. Without a high level executive (or corporate) initiative saying “Thou Shall Be”, these small SOA bites will never grow into enterprise returns. The internal politics will eventually stop them dead in their tracks.