Sandy Carter kicks it off and introduced Craig Hayman of IBM. Smart SOA, he says, is fundamentally about loosely coupled services being integrated into scalable, reliable processes to tackle change. BPM enabled by SOA allows you to do this – embrace change while having a stable SOA foundation. This relies on the Model/Simulate, Rapidly Deploy/Change, Monitor/Predict/Act loop to deliver business optimization and is embodied in the new IBM BPM Suite. IBM is trying, they say, to unite a large number of stakeholders around the idea of an optimized process. Everything from visibility and industry frameworks, user interfaces and asset repository.
They talk about 6 points of agility
- Business Rules
- Service Selection
- Dynamic Content
- Business Policies
Interesting set of issues – very decision-centric and I will clearly have to blog about this. Craig then walked through how this might work. Business Policies are clearly intended to the be the representation of the production rules in a way that allows business users to change and simulate the rules. A business user can then change the policies and deploy them. Two starter sets designed to make it easier to get started – one around dynamic business processes and content-aware processes. These are supported by things like advanced analytics and other add-ons. More on this when I get a chance to review it.
Austin Waldron from Health Care Service Corporation was up next talking about how they adopted SOA. They support 12M members with 44,000 calls and 680,000 claims a day. Like most plans they have lots of different kinds of customers, different state and federal rules, inconsistent eligibility etc. Using BPM and SOA they are delivering things like a common pricing or eligibility service to support multiple processes. They found that the most important things were educating the business in the value of BPM/SOA, establishing governance and leadership, remain adaptive to change and take it in stages while continuing to focus on your business.
John Soyring of IBM came on stage to talk about using Smart SOA for Carbon Management! He made the point that many historical processes were designed when resource use and energy use were not important. Similarly, many companies now are trying to show how green they are. Both of these mean that processes can and should be redesigned to improve the use of resources and energy. Similarly, companies are checking on their suppliers to see if they are green. Lastly there is beginning to be regulation on this.
IBM has helped companies build dashboards to monitor energy use and emissions, because a dashboard like this changes behavior just like the consumption monitoring in a hybrid car. Many processes can be important in this so IBM has built out some models based on its standard processes to see which ones are high-emission or high energy usage. Clients can use this to drive down consumption and increase efficiency as well as offsetting their carbon usage.
Gary Cripps, CFO of Delaware Electric Cooperative, a small company with 65,000 customers, came on to follow-up. The power generation industry has changed a lot over the years with deregulation, green, competition etc. They had a typical mess of systems but focused on using BPM/SOA to improve field automation. He had three key points
In a small company, leveraging field workers is key so automation of field workers really helped.
- Low hanging fruit
Eliminating double- or triple-entry of site visit information for customer service, billing, mapping etc using proven technology.
Using technology to increase visibility and thus enable cost savings and pass those on to customers.
He concluded with a nice sentiment – that the combination of BPM and SOA means he will not be constrained in his business because of his technology platform.
Rich Lechner of IBM came on to talk about Green by Design. IT energy use has reached a crisis with IT energy use doubling every 9-24 months and is trending towards spending as much money on power and cooling as on hardware by 2011. At the same time companies are trying to adopt new technologies like real-time data streams, SOA, e-business etc. all of which put stress on the data centers. IBM has a vision of a New Enterprise Data Center. The transition is gradual:
- Simplified systems for efficiency
- Shared resources for rapid deployment
- Dynamic environment that responds to the business
They have worked with some 2,000 customers to “green” their IT and have developed patterns that are an extension of the SOA reference architecture. IBM has, for instance, used the approach to drop $1.5Bn/year in IT costs. Last year they announced Project Big Green which is designed to double capacity of data centers without increasing power consumption or emissions. They also find that a $1 energy saving tends to correlate with a $6-$8 operational saving! So, go green…
Elizabeth Smith of IBM was next. She emphasized how important IBM feels it is to have customers share their experience to help each other. For instance, they recently got some of their top technology people to review 250 case studies and 100 deep dives to come up with best practices. Refining these drove them to 5 best practices:
- Linking business and IT from the beginning
- Developing an architecture with a vision of the future
- Built on skills within culture and governance
- Scalability and process integrity are key
- End to end operational visibility
These were built into their health check services which cover everything from getting started to health checks specifically aimed at specific problem areas: Infrastructure Healthcheck for SOA and Applications and Services Healthchecks for SOA. In particular they use data from logs to predict the likelihood of problems in different environments.
Sandy wrapped it up by introducing the founder of Tesla Motors, Martin Eberhard. Martin was focused on oil consumption, both from a security and green perspective, and saw that most of the consumption was for cars. Of the various ideas for other cars it was clear to him that electric cars were the most effective way to change the dynamic (versus hydrogen etc). Cars, he feels, are an extension of people’s idea of themselves so you need a different kind of electric car. He wanted to build both a “sexy” car and one with longer driving range. He wanted to use the standardized lithium-ion batteries used in laptops etc. and an OEM manufacturer (Lotus). Lots of steps – clay models, drivetrain designs, evaluation prototypes etc. The prototypes get tested a whole bunch then machine tools and real prototypes, built with those tools, get built. More testing and finally road testing. End result is a car that does 0-60 in 3.8 seconds while getting 135 miles to the gallon equivalent and 220 miles per charge. And it does look cool….
Hey, Sandy just plugged my book signing!