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Live from the SOA Consortium – CIO SOA Concerns


Next up was a panel of experts – Sandy Carter of IBM, Judith Hurwitz of Hurwitz & Associates, Richard Soley of OMG – moderated by Brenda Michelson. This will apparently be available as a podcast some time soon. Brenda asked each person to identify the areas of most concern to CIOs. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Judith – Business/IT alignment and a holistic approach around SOA not just a narrow focus on SOA. For instance data quality and security are issues often related to SOA programs.
  • Judith – SOA may be the beginning of the industrialization of software and this can be uncomfortable. Although I have heard others talk about previous paradigms being the beginning of industrialization of software, Judith argues that this is actually a side effect of the tight linkage between the business and IT. Unless something becomes completely entwined then it will not become industrialized.
  • Sandy – The need for good SOA governance focused across business and IT with appropriate metrics. She discussed both traditional KPI’s and what IBM is calling Key Agility Indicators or KAIs. For instance, China Mobile uses how long it takes to resolve the average customer problem as a measure of billing system integration, Standard Life measures reuse both internal and external and now has 1200 instances of reuse, Staples is growing its online channel and focused on 60% online conversion through reuse. I think the idea of KAIs is great but these do not seem to be KAIs to me…
  • Sandy – Skills and growing them (see her earlier presentation).
  • Sandy – A focus on best practice processes so do a joint business/IT team focused on the right go-forward process. She recommended a strong focus on with simulation as 80% of process change fails because organizations cannot understand how the change will impact the company.
  • Richard – Educational concerns are one area including fending off the feeling that SOA is just another kind of middleware – that this is not just technically focused “SOA in a box”. He agrees with Sandy that it is critically important to find business/IT cross over people. He said that Business Architecture is key as it brings business and Enterprise Architecture together.
  • Richard – Operational concern involves a focus on processes, capturing them and optimizing them. Integrating what you built with what you are building with what you will build. Now decision making is something he regards as not automated but critical to optimizing processes (which I think is limiting) but I think the focus on optimizing processes is a good one.
  • Richard – what he called driving concerns include what do suppliers and customers want from me and how do I make it a win-win, what are my competitors doing?, how do I live within my means and how do I manage the impact on the whole business/get everyone on board/get value?. I particularly liked his point that SOA/BPM has no deadline (unlike Y2K or the Euro) and that makes it hard to focus energy. Finally he noted that showing an ROI is key.

I asked a question of the panel around what you might call intra-service agility – what to do when the innards of a service have to change and where agility cannot be driven just by recombining services. Sandy suggested focusing on what will drive your business in the future and making sure it is rewritten to provide agility – focus on agility “hot spots” where rewriting is key not just service-enabling legacy. Richard talked about defining a business architecture without thinking about legacy and then mapping into legacy applications to again focus on hot areas. Judith focused on governance to make sure that changes to services are handled given the reuse of services, configuration tools. All good points but, as regular readers know, I think these services are different and are Decision Services (wiki). More to come on this topic I am sure.


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