In the world of application development, data is king. Unfortunately many new-fangled approaches to app dev, like SOA, have neglected that importance of turning data into an accessible, reusable resource. This podcast with Marcia Kaufman, partner with Hurwitz & Associates and co-author of Service Oriented Architecture for Dummies, delves into some of the all-too-frequent data mistakes being made by users.
The podcast will cover:
- The drivers for data integration
- Why data needs to be treated like a shared and reusable resource
- The importance of data quality
- Why you need more than an ETL tool to integrate your data
- The necessity for creating a standardized way of handling data
Web 2.0 and enterprise mashups were the hot topics at this year’s Web Services/SOA on Wall St. conference. Michael Ogrinz, principal architect for global markets at Bank of America, revealed his company was heavily pushing the mashup concept to its internal users. He argued mashups are a way to overcome low user expectations that the Internet can become a dynamic, useful tool in getting their jobs done.
He also said end user IT departments ought to get involved in mashup development.
“The reason you see the emergence of these mashup vendors is IT has failed to provide the service,” he said.
That’s an interesting take, that vendors are rushing in where users haven’t dared to tread. The panel on which Ogrinz sat lauded mashups for their do-it-yourself nature and expressed hope that more companies would catch the DIY spirit.
Jonathan Rochelle, a senior product manager with Google, stated that mashups not only stand to get corporate employees to avail themselves of powerful modern tools, but he also said, “The concept that mashups will be there is what drives the architecture.” Essentially, his point was that compelling new applications are what makes all that architectural rigor worth the while.
Always ready with a good analogy, Miko Matsumura. vice president and deputy CTO at Software AG, broached the same topic as Rochelle, saying “Mashups are sexual reproduction for your apps.”
Well, that sure does sound like more fun than we’re used to in the IT business, but Matsumura was driving at something more biological, specifically “How does evolution produce variation?” He noted that humans share something on the order of 95% of their DNA with chimps. Similarly, most applications will share the same architecture (once you get a solid architecture in place). From there, variation can take place.
As Matsumura explained it, “You’re looking to enable an infinite number of things you can do in business, but a finite number of things your IT people have to do.”
That sounds like a solid plan, Web 2.0 evolution on top of an enterprise grade SOA. Yet, as Marc Adler, senior vice president of equities and head of complex event processing at Citigroup, noted, data services have a sizable role to play in that enterprise grade SOA and it has been tough to bring DBAs into the fold.
“They kick, they scream, they holler, they don’t want to let their data out,” Adler said.
He suggested a carrot and stick approach to bring the DBAs on board. The carrot is that by opening up their databases, DBAs stand to elevate their status inside the organization. The stick is having executive’s mandate the change.
At SearchSOA.com we spend a fair amount of time writing about the importance of governance and how you aren’t likely to succeed with service orientation unless you put a solid governance model around those efforts.
Yet let’s be honest, the term “SOA governance” sucks. It reeks of someone else telling you what to do, hectoring you over every little detail of a project. It sounds about as desirable as a colonoscopy with an IMAX camera.
It’s a particularly sticky term here in the U.S.A. We don’t like a lot of governance. In fact, we get uppity when we think we’ve been placed under the yoke of too much governance. We’ll dump your tea in the harbor when that happens. In fact, you can be sure many project teams have formed some unprintable thoughts about governance without representation.
That said, can we admit that stovepipe application development leads to needless duplication of effort and that it actually prevents businesses from pursuing new opportunities? Being a cowboy sure sounds like fun, but if that’s what you want, then go buy a horse. If you want to work for a company with stockholders/investors and a comprehensive benefits package, then maybe, just maybe, you might want to consider how what you do affects the bottom line.
At the end of the day, that’s the crux of SOA governance – let’s put a little organization around all these disjointed IT efforts in order to make them more profitable. I suspect everyone whose hackles rise at the sound of the word “governance” would agree with that statement. No one wants to be the square peg begging for a hammering. Beyond that, who doesn’t want their work to be considered valuable?
The rub comes in how to sum up all of the things that exist under the heading of SOA governance in a term that doesn’t cause automatic resentment. As ZapThink’s David Linthicum noted recently, SOA governance encompasses a lot of import facets in application development and management. We need to call it something. I’ve heard “productivity” and “business value” tossed around as replacement terms, but those still sound a bit too buzzwordy.
As a believer in the wisdom of humans, though, I figure someone out there has come up with a term preferable to SOA governance. Feel free to inundate us with suggestions. We’ll pool them together and then put together a poll to see which one our readers prefer. Who knows, maybe we’ll come up with something that sounds more like something you want to do and less like something someone else is forcing you to do (or trying to sell you).
SearchSOA.com has gone international. Just recently we launched a version of the site in China. Now, technically speaking, we don’t have a billion new readers on the site, but you get the idea: namely, we’ve launched the site in the most populous nation on the planet.
Apparently a lot of those emerging businesses in China are thinking it might make sense not to build a haphazard and unmanageable application infrastructure. Imagine that? These companies might actually start with a well-conceived reference architecture and adhere to the basic principles of service orientation. They might be employing the best practices covered in our Service Orientation for Architects School inside those pristine greenfields with which they get to work.
It’s actually not the most comforting notion when you get right down to it. You’ve got who knows how many emerging companies looking to run IT as a profit center instead of a cost center. What if they’re agile and you’re not? How many partnerships will you miss out on? How much business will go to someone else? Suddenly the world isn’t as flat as Thomas Friedman theorized. Instead you’re surrounded by mountains to climb in every direction.
It should be fascinating to see how SOA adoption goes in China. Will the Ertan Hydropower’s Yalong River Dam project be the standard over there? If so, then app dev really will have entered a new world order.
Of course, maybe we’ll confuse our Mandarin readers as much as we help them. For instance, when our lead writer Rich Seeley makes a reference to Yogi Berra at the top of a story, it could cause people to think Yogi Berra is some famous IT guru whose wisdom must be sought out … and that could be a big clog in their machine.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably heard by now that Microsoft has placed a $44.6 billion bid to buy Yahoo!.
We’ll leave it to others to ponder the Wall St. implications of the move, but in her All about Microsoft blog, Mary Jo Foley posits “a Yahoo! purchase would irrevocably change the kind of company Microsoft is.” Foley focuses on advertising in her comments, but it could represent a change in Microsoft’s application development focus. Microsoft built itself around operating systems and desktop applications, the things you do with a computer. Of course, with the advent of the Internet, what you do with a computer has changed radically. Yahoo! and Google have made hay in offering up Web-based applications, leveraging search capabilities and creating dynamic user portals.
Microsoft has tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to gain a dominant position in those arenas. While Dana Gardner speculates a Microsoft-Google partnership might be a mess, it could represent a return to Microsoft’s core applications business. Yahoo! and Silverlight (for RIA and composite apps) represent where the next wave of applications are headed. On the enterprise side, easily distributed Web apps and multimedia mashups are where a lot of companies want to go. It’s where the innovation is and for Microsoft, a company which has always fancied itself an innovator, that’s a good place to be. There are those who think enterprise mashups will be the killer app once users get a service-oriented architecture in place, the idea being that a loosely coupled infrastructure will lead to dynamic new applications.
It’s no secret Microsoft has long faced criticism in SOA circles because its remedy for users grappling with a heterogeneous application environment has been to pursue homogeneity on the .NET platform. Microsoft’s Oslo model-driven development initiative is still in the planning stages, but a Yahoo! purchase begs the question “Why bother with application infrastructure?” Obviously no one expects Microsoft to pull its irons completely out of that fire, but if that’s not going to be a big growth area for the good folks in Redmond (and IBM and Oracle/BEA are gobbling up large chunks of that pie) then maybe it makes more sense to concentrate on New Wave application development. Microsoft could make leveraging service orientation its app dev enterprise play rather than implementing service orientation.
Let someone else do the tedious work and be the company that does the cool stuff.
There’s so many facets to this offer that it’s impossible to assess the true implications of a Microsoft/Yahoo! merger, but going after Yahoo! does indicate where Redmond’s heart is. If Microsoft really wanted to pursue application infrastructure, BEA Systems was a completely complimentary acquisition target. It would have given Microsoft unparalled reach across the .NET and Java platforms. Yet it didn’t make that play. Instead it’s made a Web play which could build on top of of what the application infrastructure vendors provide, potentially expanding its enterprise app dev audience well beyond the .NET platform.
Last week we got flooded with requests to extend the deadline for our Products of the Year Awards submissions. Normally we’d have taken a “no soup for you” stance on this, but when the requests topped the dozen mark we figured we should grant an extension.
Now you’ve got until February 15 to fill out the nomination form. It will push back the announcement of winners until March, but we believe this will be the most comprehensive set of awards handed out in the SOA space and we wanted to make sure absolutely everyone gets a chance to submit.
For those of you who don’t know, we have eight categories:
- Service design and modeling (including BPM)
- Service assembly and integration (ESB, orchestration)
- Service performance (testing, QA)
- SOA runtime management
- Data services/integration (including BI)
- SOA security
- SOA governance (including registry/repository)
- Composite application assembly (portal, Ajax, RIA)
Products need to have been released between Dec. 1, 2006 and Nov. 30, 2007. You can check the nomination form for more details, though we highly recommend you explain how the product enables SOA and adheres to the principles of service orientation in your entry.
Let’s face it, service-oriented architecture is boring. I mean, with all that planning and attention to detail and consistency. Maybe that appeals to the small percentage of people out there who lead highly organized lives, but for most humans in your app dev shop the efficiency and better business productivity of SOA isn’t going to set off any internal whistles.
For them the selling point on SOA is that if you get organized over here then you can do some cool, new stuff over there. It’s a tradeoff. You want to do some fantastic enterprise mashup? Guess what? That’s not going to happen until you’ve got loosely coupled applications with easily digested data. It’s the adult equivalent of having to eat your vegetables before you get dessert.
Anyway, we know that plenty of companies out there want to pursue rich Internet and/or composite applications. What we don’t know is how far along you are with that work. So we put together a RIA and composite apps survey to get a better sense of your progress in this area and to find out what sorts of pain points you’re experiencing. It’s quick and easy to take and we aren’t requiring you to provide any intimate personal information (seriously, we don’t want your DNA).
If we know more about your interests and concerns in the Web 2.0, we can better focus our coverage on your needs. Whether you’re working on an internal portal, a trading application or a cool Web site like BreakThru Radio, or even if that’s what your company would like to be doing, we want to know about your RIA experience.
We know you’re out there, looking to push the application envelope, yearning to turn all this organization into something creative. Make sure you chime in on the survey and it will help align our coverage.
For the past two years, we at SearchSOA.com have been told regularly by our members (numbering 450,000+ these days), that you need help with governance. Apparently the mechanics of running an SOA is one of the biggest challenges users face.
That’s no surprise, the reuse, performance, management and ownership aspects of SOA are, literally, a sea change for a lot of IT organizations. This is business as unusual.
With that in mind, we’ve put together our Pragmatic SOA Governance Seminar, a free one-day event which covers the design time, runtime and business aspects of SOA governance. The material is geared toward key decisions makers in your IT organization – CTOs, enterprise architects and app dev managers. The seminar will go beyond theory and focus on actionable steps you can take to achieve SOA governance right now.
The dates and locations of the seminars are:
- February 21, San Jose, CA
- February 26, Reston, VA
- February 28, Mt. Laurel, NJ
Those interested in attending need to submit a registration form or call Lauren Nickerson at 781-657-1782.
One of the leading lights in the SOA community, Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director at Burton Group, will be presenting the main sessions. In addition there will be a user case study presented in each of the three cities: Transunion in San Jose, the Department of the Interior in Reston and Synovus Financial in Mt. Laurel. Each of these users has gone through the hard work of implementing an enterprise-wide SOA and will share their hands-on experiences about best and worst practices when it comes to SOA governance.
We’ve taken pains to make sure this seminar won’t be the standard boilerplate presentation of SOA governance with some vendors then saying all you need to do is buy Product X and your governance needs will be solved. These events will identify specific governance pain points and offer up sensible solutions. At SearchSOA.com we hold ourselves to a high standard. Just as we take pains to give you independent, in-depth of SOA-related news (instead of repackaged press releases), we’ve made sure that you can walk away from this seminar with a laundry list of SOA governance action items.
Oracle Corp. finally came up with an offer BEA Systems Inc. couldn’t refuse, but the sale is merely a prelude to a pile of “now what?” questions.
The next year in the application development software space will be shaped by this deal. How will BEA fit underneath the Oracle umbrella? What does this mean for open vs. proprietary tooling? Will BEA open new SOA arenas to Oracle or will this create an opportunity for competitors to win business as the Oracle-BEA assimilation takes place? Will SAP react? Will Microsoft react? Will IBM react?
I could go on all day, but I suspect you get the point: Oracle has agreed to buy BEA and the fallout promises to be massive.
Even though this deal has seemed imminent for months, the media and analyst community is trying to sort out the rationale behind it. Over at ZDNet, Larry Dignan’s blog entry notes “Ellison added that BEA will allow Oracle to instantly become a leader in messaging and ‘adds scale to our middleware business.'”
The Eye on Oracle blog from SearchOracle.com speaks with Forrester analyst Ray Wang, who says, “We expect accelerated consolidation along key battle grounds of middleware platforms such as Master Data Management, business intelligence, portals, business process management, and other information management tools. Don’t expect the competitors of BEA to sit still.”
Matt Asay at CNET flogs the conventional wisdom and asks if Oracle’s platform play will drive users toward open source offerings.
On his blog at SpringSource, Rod Johnson speculates that “the Oracle application server, OC4J, is history and Oracle will focus on driving WebLogic Server.” Yet that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s some of the other seemingly competitive products that need to be rationalized:
- Oracle Enterprise Service Bus, BEA AquaLogic Service Bus
- Oracle BPA Suite, BEA AquaLogic BPM
- Oracle Portal, BEA WebLogic Portal
- Oracle Web Services Manager, BEA AquaLogic SOA Management
- Orace Data Integrator, BEA AquaLogic Data Services Platform
- Oracle JDeveloper 10g, BEA Workshop
That last one is a real sticky wicket in that BEA built Workshop on the open source Eclipse IDE, while JDeveloper is still a fully proprietary offering. Where does the tooling go? Since Oracle bought BEA, you’d have to think this doesn’t bode well for BEA’s open tooling approach. If so, maybe Asay is onto something, maybe this is the end of the “commercial open source” path BEA was trying to navigate.
How well Oracle assimilates BEA and what decisions it makes about mixing and matching the two product lines could either give rise to an application development titan or send customer scurrying for alternatives. One thing it probably can’t afford to do is repeat what it’s done with the 2007 Hyperion acquisition, namely make a big money purchase and then remain mum on how it will fit long term into the Oracle Fusion product line. Hyperion was a complimentary acquisition, bringing business intelligence into the Oracle family. It can stand alone for a while. There’s too much redundancy with BEA for Oracle not to produce a fairly clear roadmap of how it all fits together.
Could growing fears of an economic slowdown in the U.S. be good news for service-oriented architecture?
While it’s morbid to consider, the answer might be yes. While most companies don’t have an operating SOA in place at the moment, many do (anywhere from 20 to 33% dependent on which poll you happen to be reading). If the U.S. economy takes a nap for a few quarters and money for new projects becomes tight, then SOA will be handed a golden opportunity to flash the agility it has long promised.
Can the SOA vanguard connect to new partners, assemble new applications and create new efficiencies without requiring piles of money be spent on new software? If it can, then it stands to gain a significant advantage over its competitors, who may need to shelve good ideas until they can afford to implement them. It really is the ultimate test for whether you’ve turned your app dev efforts into a profit center rather than a cost center.
In fact, recent events are making ZapThink’s Ron Schmelzer and Jason Bloomberg look like prophets for having penned “Service Orient or Be Doomed” back in 2006 — a potential recession representing the “be doomed” part of the title for those who haven’t become satisfactorally service-oriented.
Later in 2006 the authors of “Service Oriented Architecture for Dummies” echoed the same sentiment, calling SOA crucial for “the very survival of a business.” Co-author Judith Hurwitz emphasized that very point in a podcast with us last year.
In 2008 we might get to see that play out a bit. In any economic downturn there are winners, companies who thrive while everyone else is struggling. If we hear that SOA is a behind-the-scenes force for a lot of those winners, then it could move from the realm of fond desire to corporate necessity. A recession could be the ultimate good news for people who love bad news scenario when it comes to SOA.
We’ll lead off our news coverage this week with a story on how analysts think SOA will fare if the economy chills. Expect this to be a major topic as the year progresses, as 2008 may turn out to be the year that SOA proves its business value or the year where it fails to match the hype.