Sunday, May 31, 2009

Do You Believe SOA Related Projects Will Increase or Decrease in the Future?

The answer is a resounding "YES". SOA has been around in one form or another well before the acronym SOA was coined. The goal of well-meaning architects has always been to align business and IT, increase business agility, and establish IT value/credibility with robust user-oriented solutions. SOA is the latest name given to that admirable, always slightly out-of-reach goal. The same goal will be called something else later but the principles of SOA will stand. The architecture pattern embodied in SOA has stood and will continue to stand the test of time.

A related question though was anwered previously on the ebizQ SOA forum related to the Biggest SOA inhibitors. So, while I am confident that the number of SOA projects will increase in the future, the rate at which that will occur depends on how well these inhibitors will be overcome.

Another question that comes to mind relates to the never ending debate between "Quantity" and "Quality". While numbers are important, they don't tell the whole story. Are we better off if the number of SOA projects goes up while the success rate (aka quality) does not or gets worse? Yes, thinking about quantity is important, especially as one embarks on new initiatives and wants to ensure that they will not fall behind the times even before their initiative is over but remember that any discussion about quantity must be balanced with a corresponding discussion on quality.

So, I end this post with the question:

Do You Believe that the Quality of SOA Related Projects Will Increase or Decrease in the Future?

* Originally posted on ebizQ's SOA Forum on May 31, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Do You Believe is the Biggest Inhibitor Today to SOA Adoption?

The inhibitors to an SOA implementation are many and just as varied as there are benefits to an SOA implementation. And while some inhibitors may be more universal than others, which inhibitors affect a given organization is often dependent on the organization itself.

Here are six key inhibitors that I have experienced over the years:
  1. Unrealistic or misunderstood goals and expections— As with any substantial project, level-setting expections and gaining a common understanding of the goals/benefits amongst the stakeholders is key to the success of an SOA implementation.

  2. Tactical instead of Strategic Approach— SOA is best implemented top-down with a strategic view of the business processes and functions to be exposed as services. Bottom-up implementations too often tend to be overly focused on technoology rather than the business

  3. Not putting your money where your mouth is— Let's be realistic: The best intentions won't go too far without money being spent. SOA requires an investment in your resources (people, tools, and technology) to be successful. There is no free lunch in life.
  4. Poor Governance— Poor or complete lack of governance can lead to service proliferation, which can ultimately lead to more severe problems with data integrity, meeting SLAs, and privacy/security breaches.
  5. Organizational Power Struggles— In an SOA the focus moves away from individual applications and data stores to more business-oriented services that may cross business unit and organizational boundaries. This breakdown in application and data barriers may cause heartburn to the owners of those applications and data, who may see this as a challenge to their power see advantage in hindering the SOA implementation.
  6. Fear and Ignorance— SOA is surrounded by many misconceptions regarding exactly what it is and what it takes. Too much has been said about all the technical details/variations leading to the misguided belief that any SOA implementation must have "all that" technology and complexity. Ignorance breeds fear, which then becomes a major inhibitor.
But these are just six of the inhibitors that I have seen; there are many more. Remember, each organization is unique in its own way and the challenges it will face as it implements an SOA will depend on its unique culture and history.

* Originally posted on ebizQ's SOA Forum on May 20, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hot off the Press... What's in it for IT?

With no end in sight to the current economic downturn, a burning question for IT professionals has become “Is Obama’s strong penchant for and his belief in the transformational capability of technology evident in how funds are allocated in the stimulus package?” Being an IT professional myself, I too sought out to seek that answer.

Follow my journey to seek the answer in my latest article on "What Obama's Stimulus Plan means for IT" in the Gameplan section (page 10) of the May 2009 issue of Baseline magazine.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Impact is Web 2.0 Having on Marketing?

In my opinion, the most significant change that Web 2.0 technology has brought about to the marketing world is making marketing much more of a 2-way street than ever before. Traditionally, marketing has been about pushing information to potential consumers, telling them how great your products are, and why they should buy your product. Gathering information from them, especially pro-actively, has always been a challenge. Web 2.0 is the game changer that allows companies to pro-actively involve potential and existing consumers in marketing-related activities from product development to feedback to customer service. As an example, consider wikis - web sites that allow users to add, delete and edit content - where employees and consumers alike can answer frequently asked questions about each product. Many companies have also engaged in online community building through the use of sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Such online communities not only bring consumers closer to the company and its products but to one another and create the feeling of loyalty through an extended family. However, as with everything else in life, one Web 2.0 strategy should not be expected to fit all; companies must try different things to find out what's best for its environment (product, company, and consumer space).

* Originally posted on ebizQ's SOA Forum on May 12, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How Can Small to Medium Sized Enterprises Benefit from SOA?

Big companies with big IT staffs are often the first to realize the benefits of IT projects like SOA. But what about small to medium-sized companies with a much smaller and often overworked IT staff? How do they stand to benefit from SOA in these tough times?

The primary benefit of an SOA to small and medium sized businesses (SMB) is exactly the same as it is for a large sized company - business and IT alignment. In other words, the value potential of an SOA, as an architectural style, is not tied to the size of a company. Having said that, the next question that might come to mind is "Are SMBs ready for an SOA?" They absolutely should be ready and my guess is that if they think they are not then it's probably because they have been misguided as to what SOA really is. SOA is not about Web Services and the hundreds of associated WS-* standards; nor is it about deploying a mandatory Enterprise Service Bus and encapsulating every single business interaction as a BPEL workflow. SOA is not about technology; it's about optimizing your business by aligning your IT capabilities with your current and anticipated business needs. Once you abstract all that technology out and think about SOA with your business hat on, you'll quickly see that SMBs have as much to gain with SOA as any other sized company.

* Originally posted on ebizQ's SOA Forum on May 7, 2009.