While attending DIALOG I had a chance to have lunch with Sandy Carter of IBM and Pierre Haren of ILOG. There was a lot of interesting discussion but two key themes caught my attention – business v IT drivers and reuse.
Sandy discussed how top-down SOA being driven by BPM and has an executive focus, although this only represents about 20% of SOA projects. The remainder are challenge-based implementations with a single focus area. Regardless, the business side represents more and more of the people IBM teaches about SOA with 40% line of business types in their SOA Executive Summits. These folks are driven by a desire to be a more “service-oriented” and dynamic business as well as by a desire to “fix this for good” in areas that have had many temporary solutions over the years. They see SOA as foundational in getting this permanent fix even while their business continues to change. Clearly business rules and policies are increasingly important in this approach and IBM sees that also. One of the key challenges IBM sees is how to measure agility and this has lead to their work on Key Agility Indicators. SOA is an evolution of previous attempts with standards now crossing many companies and a more business-centric language. Both Pierre and Sandy emphasized that business needs and business people are driving a surprising amount of the move to SOA.
Pierre took an interesting position on reuse. He felt that the main value of SOA today is in collaboration and understanding not in reuse. Sandy had some examples of customers getting a lot of reuse but generally supported Pierre’s point, that reuse is not essential to the SOA value proposition. After all, many previous architectures promised reuse and it never seems to get delivered. Reuse may well come, whether through reused services or reused rules between services, but the power of SOA to bridge the business and IT is key. Interestingly, of course, this is also the key value proposition for the use of business rules as a technology.
The group at lunch was lively and touched on governance, centers of excellence, demonstrable compliance through business rules and issues of process integrity across decomposed processes. Wish I had been able to write faster…
Anyway, that’s it from DIALOG.