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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Out Of The Box- SOA & Needed Vendor Transformations

Service-oriented architectures (SOAs) are enterprise-led initiatives that over time represent the next generation transforamtion of IT in the endeavour to reduce cost, enhance business flexibility and improve ability to leverage human and technology resources. John Hagel in this OPED piece published for Sandhill,on SOA observes,"while there is pull from business to embrace SOA, the push from established vendors need more thrust and result orientation". Services-oriented architecture is re-defining the entire enterprise software business,from products to sales strategies to vendor positioning, everything would be influenced and states most of todays software vendors have not taken the necessary steps to remain relevant in the coming era of SOA-driven enterprise computing. Surprisingly, web services adoption is being driven by non-technology line business executives across a broad range of industries.

Hagel rightly notes,in the absence of architectural leadership - SOA’s look more like fragmented adoption of Web service technology & SOA "architectural vision to reality" is handicapped by the absence of a solidified migration path and notes that the power of SOA is amplified where an outside-in approach is brought in.The real challenge & opportunity - is to help bridge the gap that currently exists between the I.T. departments struggling to define a pragmatic migration path for SOA deployments and business executives seeking to harness the near-term business value of Web services technology. The new generation of software service providers like Salesforce.com in the CRM space are targeting major enterprise applications with a service model built on an SOA platform, in contrast to an earlier generation of Application Solution Providers that were trying to build service businesses with more hard-wired software technologies. While promising new companies like Talaris and E2open are targeting one of the most promising arenas for SOAs: Inter-enterprise collaboration. Talaris focuses on helping enterprises coordinate third party employee business services - everything from travel services to package shipping. E2open concentrates on helping companies in the high tech arena to coordinate multi-tier supply chain operations on a global scale. New generation vendors are focused on selling to business with good business cases as against selling to IT departments.
While the vendor landscape may appear to remain unchanged,Hagel expects to see a few large companies focused on defining and managing federation frameworks to effectively mobilize a much broader range of specialized service providers. The real sweet spots in the SOA landscape will involve specialized business policy repository and mediation businesses, third party auditing and reputation engines and collaboration hubs focused on supporting process collaboration across extended enterprises. These offer the potential for significant concentration and scale, and the resultant possibility exist to build and operate very large-scale enterprise software businesses, but they will operate with fundamentally different economic and organizational models.The future SOA vendorworld shall unfold based on actions taken by the vendors with end benefits in mindand not necessarily by existing marketand financial status.

My Take: John Hagel's analysis is brilliant to the core- he has assessed the transformations that may be needed by vendors to be ready to provide business value- while this is agreeable, I feel that lasting value for business shall come out of enabling entirely new sets of business models- those that can be configured on the fly,( for example integrating all eBay related operators in multiple ways),enabling lean,mean & efficient best in class processes with well designed performance measures,and also by enhancing the ability of the business enterprise in leveraging emerging technologies like grid computing,applistructures,powerful convergence technologies- many of the solutions today are aligned to delivering solutions in the conventional way but these may change.In future, businesses may be measured by how quickly their models of operationand processes can be configured and reconfigured, SOA architecture need to provide for this dynamic builds and rebuilds.For now though, SOA is a recognizable and mostly virtual plumbing exercise. Most likely, vendors will draw their strategy from the experience of customers, and will adjust accordingly. Not to overlook the fact that though the vendor community is trying hard to improve their SOA maturity,evolving standards and entrenched infrastructure mean more pilots and lab environments and more & more scope for innovations as adoption tends to improve..

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"