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Practical SOA with ZapThink


ZapThink has been putting on a series of events all over the world called Practical SOA. One of my readers suggested I blog about it as she thought ZapThink did a great job so I caught up with Ronald Schmelzer, Managing Partner at ZapThink. 

James: Ron can you give us a quick overview of ZapThink and your background?  

Ron: Hi James, I’m happy to provide some background for you and your readers. Let me first thank you for having me on your blog – I really appreciate it.  

For folks that don’t already know us, ZapThink is an Enterprise Architecture (EA), Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), and Enterprise Web 2.0 (EW2.0) strategic advisory, analysis, and influence firm. ZapThink has an audience of IT practitioners, consultants, and technology vendors. We aim to provide practical advice, guidance, education, and mentoring. ZapThink helps companies use SOA to meet their business needs and present viable SOA solutions to the market. We have a vision of IT meeting the needs of the agile business.  

As for me, I am a Managing Partner at ZapThink and an expert in SOA, Web Services, and XML-based standards. I was the lead author of XML And Web Services Unleashed (SAMS 2002) as well as co-author of Service-Orient or Be Doomed (Wiley 2006) with Jason Bloomberg. I have served on standards bodies like RosettaNet, CPExchange, the UDDI advisory group, and the CompTIA Electronic Commerce Standards Board.  

James: Thanks. So, what makes these events special?  

Ron: We don’t focus on the hype or the folks who have products to push, but on the “brass tacks” of making SOA work for you. Our Practical SOA events are for companies that want to do more than just understand SOA and Web Services. Our attendees learn from industry practitioners on the best ways to guarantee SOA success, and learn about SOA Best Practices, Lessons Learned, Case Studies, and even failures that they can hope to avoid. We aim to provide the best of the best in the world of SOA to take you through concepts, business issues, approaches, and technology to really make SOA for you.  

James: You are running a number of events in the next few months, can you give me a feel for their locations and topics?  

Ron:   The four Practical SOA events in the next few months are:  

  • March 13, 2008 – Practical SOA: Australia– A special evening mini-event featuring guest experts from large Australian firms in telco, finance, pharma, and other sectors.  
  • March 25, 2008 – Practical SOA: New York / New Jersey– Featuring guest experts from Insurance, Financial Services, and Pharmaceuticals, and a focus on Governance, Quality, and Management (GQM).  
  • April 25, 2008 – Practical SOA: UK. Featuring guest experts from SOA practitioners in the UK and large end-user firms from finance, government, and other sectors. 
  • May 16, 2008 – Practical SOA: Insurance – Co-Located with ACORD LOMA 2008– Piggy-backing on the ACORD LOMA 2008 conference in Las Vegas, this is focused on the Insurance industry  

The events are somewhat tailored to specific regions and industries but we expect significant attendance from other industries and regions. We see a broad range of attendees from retail, finance, pharma, insurance, media, manufacturing, and government. 

James: How did you find your speakers? 

Ron: We have had a huge wave of interest in these events by prospective speakers. We made a call for speakers to our readership and were overwhelmed with responses. We were able to select the finest and most qualified of speakers and have them present.  

James: When you are conducting these events what are you finding in different industries in terms of SOA adoption?  

Ron: In general, we find that the adoption of SOA most closely follows the pattern for adoption ofEnterprise Architecture and IT in general. Financial services, insurance, government, energy, and pharma industries, for example are leading the pace for SOA adoption. We do also see significant adoption in retail, manufacturing, aerospace, CPG.  

It’s clear now that Europe is outpacing the rest of the world with its SOA adoption. In Europe, SOA is not seen as such a risk as it is in the US . It seems that European companies understand the architectural investment better than here in the US. That said, many firms in the US see the light and we hope that the US catches up soon with the rest of the world.  

James: One more thing – do the Practical SOA events relate to the Licensed ZapThink Architecture (LZA) boot camp and certification events?  

Ron: Thanks for mentioning that. We have significant demand for training and credentialing for SOA-specific skills. In fact, just in the past 9 months, since we started our Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) boot camp, we have credentialed over 300 architects, with another 4 boot camps scheduled. They are each filled to capacity (we only allow 30 people per boot camp), and demand continues to be high. One of the biggest challenges facing the SOA marketplace is the lack of architects who are proficient on SOA methodologies, techniques, best practices and approaches. ZapThink is filling the unmet need for knowledge and credentials in this area.  

Here’s a few of our upcoming LZA Boot Camps:  

  • February 26-29, 2008
    St. Petersburg ,FL  
  • March 12-24, 2008
    Sydney ,Australia  
  • April 15-18, 2008
    Bangalore ,India
  • April 21-24, 2008
    Hyderabad ,India  

Go to http://www.zapthink.com/lza.html for more information  

James: Thanks Ron. For those who want more information, check out the ZapThink site or go to the specific pages: