Surviving by means of service orientation

(This is an English translation of my article published in the Dutch Computable.nl magazine)

Now that the causes of “the crisis” have become clear, more and more people are calling for “governance” to prevent this from happening again in the future. Because of the globalization these kind of “system faults” immediately have a global impact. Many companies have run into trouble because they have not been able to adjust quickly enough to the current econimic changes. Other companies are getting into trouble because they don’t have (enough) insight in what’s going on and thus don’t have the ability to make good and/or timely decisions. Flexibility, Insight and Control are the three main keywords for “World Economy 2.0”.

It’s been said before, but Charles Darwin and Adam Smith are still valid, also in IT. Prosperity is generated by a high level of specialization. Where in the past you had to do everything by yourself (hunt, fish, build house or hut) and there was no room for growth if you didn’t want to work harder yourself, the economy started to grow with the introduction of specialization. Specialization enables efficiency. Competition keeps everyone alert and can strenghten specialization or helps become companies “extinct”.

Large multinationals continuously try to deliver the best quality at the best price and at the same time create the best shareholder value by using the supply chain as efficiently as possible. Flexibility at these companies and their suppliers is essential. Apart from that, both parties will always need complete insight in their operational processes from both a technical and business perspective. Continuous measuring will help determine if everything still runs as per the policies and procedures and also enables monitoring business processes from a business point of view. Both parties can enormously profit from that.

The IT industry (more so, the IT consultancies) play a large role here. Service orientation is something that can only be implemented if the underlying automated business processes completely support it. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a  necessary architecture principle and makes it possible to implement Business Process Management (BPM) which in its turn enables flexibility of business processes.

Many articles have been written already on the SOA do’s and don’ts and most of them have been based on real life experience and thus have been very helpful to the System Integrators to create best practices. Just like in the past we have to go through the phase of ‘desillusion’ (it’s not exactly doing what we thought it should be doing, mostly because of start up issues using new, not completely thought-out technology) before we can really see the value add. At the moment we are somewhere in the middle of the phase of ‘enlightenment’ and after this we go to the ‘productivity’ phase.

Because SOA will become the underlying architecture for all automated processes it is often the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB, the ‘plumbing’ of every SOA) that is the center of everything. This is an excelllent location to implement and enable Governance (=control) and Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) / Business Intelligence (BI) (=insight). Governance products are at the moment relatively grown up I think. BAM and BI in combination with SOA still need to go through the phase of ‘desillusion’….

Service Oriented Architecture is a ‘paradigm shift’ where the men are separated from the boys with regard to architects, just like what happened with developers when we made the shift from procedural to object oriented programming. SOA will have an even bigger impact on how companies will implement IT solutions and will prove necessary to generate even more prosperity for all in the future!

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