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Friday, February 18, 2005

SOA To Foster Improved IT–Biz Process Alignment

Optimize Magazine publishes conversations involving Forrester Research analysts Phil Murphy and Randy Heffner on how IT development roles and responsibilities will shift in the SOA world. The key points include:

- Web services and a service-oriented architecture are two different things. SOA encompasses the design and architectural concepts for building systems that is, the content. Web Services are just one particular set of protocols for application-to-application communication that is, how to connect that service. Message-Oriented Middleware and CORBA are alternatives to Web services.

- Services define business units of work. To design a good service, you have to understand the business processes in which it's involved. That compels IT to understand the business. IT hasn't done well at that. If you pursue Web services, it forces a deeper business connection, which forces a deeper combination of business and technical skills into the IT organization. That's the biggest change in service-oriented IT organizations; they have to be more cognizant of the business and gain expertise in its processes. IT becomes driven by the creation of two deliverables: services and ways to access those services, whether through call-center applications, Web services, or business-to-business connections.The big change in IT now is assembling applications from groups of existing services, and there are new roles in IT because of it.This related paper from IBM provides a good approach in creating solutions that can provide the business with identified benefits.

- On Biz-IT alignment - The difference is subtle. It relates in one way to how IT has been measuring itself. Is it delivering code on time, on spec, and on budget? These can be done well and yet, not deliver a business improvement. But if you go toward measuring what IT does by the business impact, using specific process metrics and designing within that context, it forces IT to know business processes as well as the businesspeople do. There's much more of a collaborative dimension with smart IT folks focused on service design and bringing business and technical knowledge together.The lingua franca between business and IT is no longer bits and bytes; it's functions for the business.

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