Let the blog begin…
I made a new year’s resolution that I would start a blog. I promised myself that I would not try to boil the ocean, but rather share observations about what I am seeing in the industry based on meetings, conversations, and general random thoughts. I hope you and I can have a dialog here. So, here goes….
Trolling through SOA land – not a straight line..
In our family we often talk about straight lines in the context of getting to an outcome. So, when you are looking at a teenager, it is natural to hope that he or she becomes a responsible citizen with a good job and a nice family. But it doesn’t happen over night. In some cases the kid does exactly what you expect and the results are easy to predict. But, in most cases, your kid takes two steps forward and one step back – and might even go sideways for a period of time. Eventually, things have a way of working out. This is the way I am looking at SOA – it isn’t going to happen in a straight line. Organizations are going to zig and zag. They are going to take a few positive steps and do great things and they are going to fumble and have problems. But, in the end, I do believe that most companies will get there.
I get frustrated with the implication that there is a straight line to implementing SOA. It is not straight at all. First, there are still many pieces that will have to be developed before organizations are ready for wide adoption of SOA on an enterprise basis. For example, there needs to be a mechanism to manage the SOA components from a performance, security, and quality perspective. There has to be what we at Hurwitz & Associates are calling the SOA Supervisor. It’s a necessary software component, a control mechanism that allows organizations to cleanly join and loosely couple services together and have them act as a virtual system. That does not exist today, except when a company hires an experienced team to do the work. Even with such a team, I think it will take years to arrive at a complete solution.
But as we wait, I think that you will see SOA move to a line-of-business focus. This is the only way in the short term that organizations will be able to successfully implement SOA in a scalable manner. This has already started to happen and will pick up speed this year. I am expecting that the major vendors will start delivering SOA stacks that are customized for specific industry sectors. Some of these sectors will be broad, such as insurance while others may be very specific to a submarket – paper process manufacturing, for example. So, is this a packaged software or SOA infrastructure? The answer is yes.
How about Autonomic computing?
Ok, here is a test for you. What is the value of autonomic computing in the real world? Autonomic computing has always sounded a little like science fiction. The system sits there and anticipates when something is going to go wrong and rushes in, and fixes the problem – before any human ever knows that there was a problem. Sort of cool.
Most of my conversations about automatic computing have been with IBM. However, this week I ran into an interesting small company that specializes in automatic computing and even has an IBM partnership in this area. The company, Embolics(www.embolics.com), is based in Ottawa, Canada and is less than a year old. Rather than coding from scratch, Embolics purchased the assets of a company called Symbium that focused on autonomic computing for the telecommunications market. Embolics is holding its cards pretty close to the vest but it looks like they have some pretty interesting software that discovers patterns of use and matches those patterns to a workflow approach to securing access to software and hardware.
Unlike some of the solutions I have seen over the past few years, this one does not require the customer to create a complex set of rules from scratch. The company says that its’ software is self-securing and self-managing. The software itself is embedded either in an appliance or a card or in a virtualization layer. The company already has a few key partnerships – even with IBM Tivoli in its autonomic computing area. So, this is one of those emerging companies I plan to keep an eye on.