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Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Gartner SOA summit – pragmatism and innovation

I spent a great couple of days last week at the Gartner SOA and Application Development and Integration Summit in London, emerging encouraged by the combination of pragmatism and innovation that I heard discussed.

Inevitably, much discussion centred on the economy and its implications. While technology –as Massimo Pezzini pointed out - might be seen as having helped the problem happen by “providing the infrastructure to enable the financial services sector to get into trouble faster than anyone expected”, I didn’t hear much discussion about what could (or should) be done to prevent that happening again! On the other hand there was lots of debate on how IT can help companies survive and reinvent themselves for the future. The (not surprising) prescription was to focus on strict cost control and alignment of IT projects with clear business cases, while keeping sufficient investment to foster innovation in key areas. In the short term for example, organizations need to use their resources to rapidly adapt sales and marketing patterns in response to changed customer behaviours. Longer term, much discussion centred on anticipated structural changes to industries (especially financial services) requiring better support for complex inter-company relationships and networks.

SOA adoption
The message I took on SOA – from both Paolo Malinverno’s opening keynote and much that followed - is that it has clearly taken root, especially in Europe and N. America. However there also seems no doubt that the recession is having a Darwinian effect, culling the projects without well-defined short term business benefits. Long term strategic business cases for SOA programmes are “out”, pragmatism in the form of prioritizing rapid payback from fixing business problems is “in”. As a result, lots of initiatives that have started bottom up with no focus on business problems (service enablement rather than SOA) risk being cut – one figure floated (and hotly disputed) was that this could kill up to 80% of the projects started thus far!

Enterprise mashups?
Given this background, where are enterprise mashups? Well there was certainly plenty of interest, with David Gootzit from Gartner talking about their having a key role to play as the “face of SOA” and becoming an important way to build composite applications. However, listening to talks and speaking with attendees confirmed to me that while a lot of vendors and users have focused on using enterprise mahups to build simple “dashboard” type single page applications, there is a huge need and interest in using them to address the new integration agenda of business focused pragmatism and innovation. The idea of using the mashup approach to rapidly build process based applications for different user groups and tasks, leveraging a wide range of enterprise IT assets is – to judge from the response we had – just the capability that many organizations need. It seems that there are many cases where business process improvements and flexibility are needed but custom application development is seen as too slow, expensive and hard to maintain, and full blown WS-* and BPM are not appropriate.

Conclusion? SOA isn’t dead, just growing up in a rather more austere environment than the one it was borne into. And enterprise mashups can make a massive contribution, so long as they focus on really changing the economics of building and using business applications.

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2 Comments:

  • At 2 October 2009 at 23:03 , Blogger 68Bomber said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 2 October 2009 at 23:04 , Blogger 68Bomber said...

    I don't buy it. I think that it is the original argument that CORBA wasn't dead. The fact of the matter is that MS hated a RESTful approach and did everything to kill it. Now they have been forced to embrace it. WS-* is being used by only a very very select few. And sadly, while I was someone who helped evangelize and grow the architecture, I think it is overweight and unnecessary now even for BPM.

     

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