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Subject: The gap to be filled by the RA

The following is an exchange that occurred on the SOA mailing list at MITRE -- I left out my response.

As a sanity check, I'd ask whether our RA will fill the missing link.  I'm not implying yes or no, but I think it is a worthwhile question.


Begin forwarded message:

Could you please explain how the OASIS SOA Reference Model has any real world utility. That is, if I am starting a new SOA project tomorrow, how that model can help me get stated. How can it get me any closer to a solution architecture.
In the literature that I have seen so far,  there seems to be a missing link between the ideas (which are all good) and the real world. The problem as I see it is that OASIS has no SOA Reference Architecture which severely limits its utility.

FYI ... I thought this was a pretty good article.  Not deep, but it just highlights the point that we've been making for a while that SOA is not just a bunch of web services.  The OASIS SOA Reference Model does a good job of identifying the concerns you need to take into account and spend time in planning and design on. 


ZapFlash: In this Issue Jan 31, 2008

Welcome to ZapFlash, ZapThink's email newsletter! In this issue, you will find valuable news, research, analysis and insight about XML, Web Services, and Service-Oriented Architectures from ZapThink. This issue's features include:

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Don't Miss Practical SOA: Energy & Utilites!
Next week!

Hear from Enterprise Architect practitioners from:
BPEndigo EnergyDTE Energy

  • Looking for Usable Business Case Studies and Value Propositions for SOA?

  • Want to learn the latest best practices for making SOA a success?

  • Want to hear from successful architects about their SOA efforts?

  • Do you want to learn from your peers about what it really takes to put together an SOA?

  • Want to take your SOA to the next level?

Then REGISTER TODAY for Practical SOA: Energy & Utilities! - February 5, 2008 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Houston, TX

Sponsored by: BEA, HP, DataDirect, and iTKO.


Why Big Consulting is Hurting SOA

Document ID: ZAPFLASH-2008131 | Document Type: ZapFlash
By: David Linthicum
Posted: Jan. 31, 2008

As larger organizations begin to embark on their Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) projects, there is some misdirecting going on that you should be aware of, which will allow you to make an educated decision as to, not only what you're going to do, but who's going to help you. At issue is the fact that many people in the planning stages for SOA do not get the proper advice and guidance as to how to proceed, or even what a SOA actually is. Thus, the larger tragedy is that many of these projects will hit the wall, and do so with an impact that will reflect poorly on the notion of SOA, when it's not really a SOA issue at all.

First, be wary if consulting organizations point out their experience in the world of SOA by putting up past projects as proof of their experience. Most, if not all, of these past projects are really JBOWS (just a bunch of Web Services) and have no underlying mechanisms to provide agility, which is a core benefit of SOA. The fact is that most end users out there don't know the difference. Always keep in mind that Service-enabling existing systems is useless without a mechanism for turning those Services into solutions.

The problem is that many of people looking to hire SOA consultants don't understand the difference between JBOWS and true SOA, and accept JBOWS as "experience." In reality, it's an indication that the consultants don't understand the core value of SOA, and thus could send you off in all sorts of dangerous and costly directions. So, make sure to hire consultants who understand that SOA is really about architecture, agility, and changeability, and not just about Service enablement. It's easy to expose Services; turning those Services into solutions is another level of sophistication.

Second, many consultants are a bit too chummy with vendors. Thus, you'll find that they implement the same vendors and technology each and every time. This situation should present a huge red flag since SOA problem domains are all very different, and technology solutions that work best for the solution are never, ever, from the same vendor, over and over again. However, when you sell hammers, everything looks like a nail. The path of least resistance is what you know, not what you should do.

People responsible for managing SOA consultants need to state clearly that you are looking for the right solution, not the one they know, or what may be part of an existing partnership. Indeed, you should quickly overlook consulting organizations with many preexisting vendor partnerships. You need folks in there who are agnostic when it comes to technology, and are willing to leverage the best-of-breed to address your issues.

You've heard it all before: technology should add value to a concept like SOA, not control it. Lately ZapThink has run into SOA efforts that are not playing by that rule. Indeed, the focus is on ESBs and governance layers, and not on getting SOA right from an architecture standpoint. I thought SOA was architecture, right?

At issue are the multi-billion dollar marketing budgets that vendors bring to the SOA world, and thus lead through sheer volume of sales. People like ZapThink who promote the architectural value of SOA, are not being heard above the noise and flash of the SOA-in-a-box movement that's occurring all around us. The end state is invariably a failed project, due to the misuse of technology, and project managers who do not understand their own issues before pulling out credit cards and buying technology. Thus, too much focus on technology is hurting SOA.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not attacking the vendors here. That's just too easy. What I am doing is pointing out the fact that technology, while being very powerful and necessary within the world of architecture, needs to occur as an outcome of the architecture, instead of driving it. While most of you will see that as a logical piece of information, it's still a de facto practice to take an "ESB-oriented" approach to SOA, no matter what the issues are at hand, or, perhaps an "App Service-oriented" approach, or a "Governance-oriented" approach, or... Okay, I'll stop.

The result, in many cases, is not something that does not work; it's something that does not work as well as the organization requires. Thus, many companies settle for sub-optimal solutions that they must rework every few years to keep up with business demands, versus solving the problem once and for all, maturing the architecture over the years and not having to keep replacing it.

The correct approach is simple. You start with your core requirements, understanding all aspects of the business, existing Services, existing data, processes, etc., and then create a vision of the end state architecture and a complete, iterative map for getting there. You understand patterns here, not instances of technology, and only then back the correct technology into the problem domain, making sure to meet the core requirements.

Third, there must be a predefined process. While many SOA consultants try to use older software development lifecycle (SDLC) and enterprise architecture processes, SOA requires a specific approach that addresses the unique nature of its architectural patterns. For instance, there is a traditional focus on data, but the data must be properly bound to Services. Moreover, those Services must be properly bound to processes. Plus you need to keep track of all the interdependencies, and how all of this stuff links to SOA governance, SOA security, and event management and monitoring.

Many consultants attempt to oversimplify the process, rapidly moving through or even foregoing the planning steps. Their main focus is the selection of the technology, or, in some cases, they attempt to force fit a problem with a predetermined technology solution. This approach never has a positive outcome.

The fact of the matter is that SOA implementations are complex distributed systems, and thus complex to plan, design, build, and test. The time spent in planning will later pay huge dividends. You should define a rigorous process/methodology that, at a minimum, provides you with a semantic-level, Service-level, and process-level understanding of the problem domain, not to mention the governance model and security strategies. Trust me, you can get SOA right the first time, but with more planning and sweat than you expect.

Finally, there is the lack of understanding about ongoing SOA operations, and links with traditional enterprise architecture. You just can't implement SOA, you have to live with SOA on an ongoing basis, which means understanding how the solution exists currently, and how to align it with business as it changes. If your consultant has done his or her job, you should have an architecture where the volatility has been abstracted into a configurable domain. As a result, it's a matter of changing things at the configuration layer to adjust to the changing nature of the business. Therein lies the value of SOA.

If your architecture does provide that degree of agility, than you're going to have to loop back to the beginning to see where you went wrong. Typically, per my previous point, you're planning was insufficient and perhaps you employed the wrong technology solution. In any event, you need to bite the bullet, spend the money and fix it, or you'll find that your SOA actually takes you backward.

The ZapThink Take
Bad intentions are not the problem here. I think everyone is honestly looking to do their best, but it's a lack of understanding and perhaps talent in some instances. Consultants who succeed with their SOA initiatives have a wide range of skills, a good understanding of architecture and the value of SOA, and all of the good work that needs to occur to make it work for the client. However, I don't see many out there who fit that bill, and the amount of bad advice is becoming a huge issue. Unfortunately, many of their clients won't figure this out until it's too late.

When doing SOA, or another other complex distributed computing problem for that matter, it pays to obtain honest and objective advice. Even if you only need a consultant for validation of key artifacts, approaches, and technology. That's just cheap insurance. Unfortunately, the number of organizations out there calling themselves "SOA consultants" is huge, while the number of consultants that actually know what they are doing is relatively quite small. Thus, most of their clients are finding that the selling around the consulting services was dazzling, but the Services they delivered, and end state solution is typically suboptimal. Indeed, a common trick is to have the "SOA experts" come in a sell the deal and you're left with the kiddies to actually do the work.

The most troubling aspect of all these issues is that most organizations won't understand the impact of leveraging less-than-stellar SOA consultants until it's too late. Indeed, the full impact of the architecture is years, not months away, and selecting the wrong technology, or getting the wrong strategic advice, won't be obvious until it's too late. At least until the checks for the huge fees have cleared the banks, and the consultants are on to their next project.

Don't Miss Practical SOA: Energy & Utilites!
Next week!

Hear from Enterprise Architect practitioners from:
BPEndigo EnergyDTE Energy

  • Looking for Usable Business Case Studies and Value Propositions for SOA?

  • Want to learn the latest best practices for making SOA a success?

  • Want to hear from successful architects about their SOA efforts?

  • Do you want to learn from your peers about what it really takes to put together an SOA?

  • Want to take your SOA to the next level?

Then REGISTER TODAY for Practical SOA: Energy & Utilities! - February 5, 2008 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Houston, TX

Sponsored by: BEA, HP, DataDirect, and iTKO.

Get Practical with SOA:
Spend a Day with ZapThink Learning SOA Best Practices

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Mar. 25, 2008 - Practical SOA: New York - Financial Services, Governance, Quality, & Management - New York, NY, USA

Apr. 22, 2008 - Practical SOA: UK - London, UK

May 16, 2008 - Practical SOA: Insurance - Now Co-located with ACORD/LOMA 2008 in Las Vegas!

ZapCheck: ZapThink's One-Day SOA Quick Assessment and Sanity Check

Want to get a head start on your SOA initiatives? Already have a head start but want to accelerate progress? Already making progress but want to validate your approach against industry practices? Only have a small amount of time (or budget) to get third-party advice?
Then ZapCheck, ZapThink's One-Day SOA Quick Assessment and Sanity Check is for you!Our ZapCheck service leverages a proven checklist-based methodology and architectural assessment approach that aims to provide the following five points of value:
  1. A clear definition of the ROI of SOA for your enterprise.
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  3. A clear understanding of key architectural issues and opportunities to facilitate SOA adoption.
  4. A roadmap of architectural artifacts for enhancing your SOA efforts with established and emerging best practices
  5. A set of deliverable s for approaching management for funding and sponsorship.
Find out more and sign up at http://www.zapthink.com/zapcheck.html


Bridging the Data/Document Divide: How High-Performance Companies Leverage Document-Centric SOA for Competitive Advantage

Speakers: Jason Bloomberg, Managing Partner, ZapThink, Jake Sorofman, VP of Marketing & Business Development, JustSystems, Inc.
Date & Time: February 13, 2008, 2:00 EST
Until now, SOA has had somewhat of a data obsession, focusing on structured and transactional data and processes, rather than documents and document-centric processes. This is now beginning to change, as organizations look to transform their document-based processes using SOA. Data and documents have historically been two worlds divided. Data is stored in relational databases, mainframe systems and data warehouses. Documents are kept in content management systems, shared file servers and local drives. While data focuses on the "what" of business, doc uments focus on the "why" and the "how"-manuals, policies, reports, analysis, etc. The reality is that business is done at the intersection of "what," "why" and "how"-where fact meets context. High performance companies are bringing it all together with SOA, while others only continue the artificial data/document divide-missing opportunities to transform business process and create powerful competitive advantages.

Join this timely and important webinar to learn how the convergence of data and documents in a Service-Oriented Architecture environment can help your enterprise optimize document-centric processes, driving down costs, mitigating risk and dramatically improving business responsiveness. Jason Bloomberg from ZapThink will provide a framework for thinking about the role of documents in SOA planning and implementation, helping you to organize for, and define the critical success factors for your organization. Jason will be joined by Jake Sorofman, VP of Marketing & Business Development at JustSystems, who will bring document-centric SOA to light with case study examples and a discussion on the role of XML and other enabling technologies, including many you've already deployed.

What you'll learn:

  • Strategic insights into the emerging role of documents as both an information source and an application framework for SOA
  • How to identify document-centric process as candidates for SOA-based transformation
  • The principles for an action plan, including a framework for organizing for success
  • Case study examples of how document-centric SOA is being leveraged by high performance companies today
All registrants will receive an advanced, prepublication ZapNote on the topic of bridging the data/document divide.

Register Today at: https://justsystems.webex.com/justsystems/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=928963092

ACORD LOMA Insurance Systems Forum: Register Today

Online Registration Now Open
Online registration for the 2008 ACORD LOMA Insurance Systems Forum is now open. You can also make your hotel reservations at Mandalay Bay online from a link on the travel page.

This year's Forum will be Tuesday, May 13 through Thursday, May 15, 2008. Be sure to check back in the new year for session listings and additional information.

Visit the travel page
Visit the registration page

Check Out The Hottest, Latest Podcasts!

Title: ZapThink Podcast: Practical SOA Energy & Utilities Sneak Peek
Special ZapThink "Sneak Preview" Podcast for January 24, 2008 features:

James Jones, Director, Service-oriented Architecture (SOA), BP

Rusty Foreman, DCT Enterprise Architecture, BP

Patrick Bhirdo, Endigo Energy

Richard Green, Principal Analyst, DTE Energy

David Anderson, Solution Architect, BEA Systems, Inc

John Michelsen, Founder & Chief Architect, iTKO

Dan Finerty, Director, Product Marketing, DataDirect Shadow

Jason Bloomberg, Managing Partner, ZapThink

Listen to this Podcast and you will get a "Sneak Peek" at what all the presenters will be speaking about at our Practical SOA: Energy and Utilities event in Houston, TX on February 5, 2008.

Click Here to Listen to Podcast!
Title: ZapForum Podcast: Converging Data & Documents in SOA
ZapForum Podcast for January 11, 2008 features Guest Expert Jake Sorofman, VP of Marketing, JustSystems.

Listen to this Podcast and you will:

  • Learn about the role of documents in SOA
  • Get an idea of the role XML has in the creation of content
  • Understand how dynamic documents that display application functionality can help implement document-centric business processes in the context of SOA

Click Here to Listen to Podcast!
Title: ZapThink Podcast: Practical SOA Frankfurt Sneak Peek
Special ZapThink "Sneak Preview" Podcast for January 8, 2008 features:

Ron Schmelzer, Managing Partner, ZapThink

Ingo Arnold, Enterprise Systems Architect, Novartis Pharma AG

Wolfgang Otto, Principal Systems Engineer, BEA Systems

Florian Mösch, Vice President Enterprise Integration & Architecture, T-Mobile Deutschland GmbH

Jason English, iTKO, iTKO

Dr. Waldemar Lohrer, Senior Berater, Swiss Life

Tim Hall, SOA Center Product Management, Hewlett-Packard

Lars Drexler, VP Sales Enablement, Software AG

Listen to this Podcast and you will get a "Sneak Peek" at what all the presenters will be speaking about at our Practical SOA event in Frankfurt, Germany, on January 15, 2008.

Click Here to Listen to Podcast!

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