Monday, March 05, 2007

BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Analysts on SOA Suites Vs. Best-of-Breed SOA, and Master Data Management

Edited transcript of weekly BriefingsDirect[TM] SOA Insights Edition, recorded Jan. 26, 2007.

Listen to the podcast here. If you'd like to learn more about BriefingsDirect B2B informational podcasts, or to become a sponsor of this or other B2B podcasts, contact Dana Gardner at 603-528-2435.

Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the latest BriefingsDirect, SOA Insights Edition, Volume 10. This is a weekly discussion and dissection of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)-related news and events with a panel of industry analysts and guests. I’m your host and moderator Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, ZDNet software strategies blogger, and Redmond Developer News magazine SOA columnist.

Our panel this week consists of show regular Steve Garone. Steve is a former IDC Group vice president, founder of the AlignIT Group, and an independent industry analyst. Welcome again, Steve.

Steve Garone: Hi, Dana, great to be back.

Gardner: Also joining us again Joe McKendrick, research consultant, columnist at Database Trends, and a blogger at ZDNet and ebizQ. Thanks for coming, Joe.

Joe McKendrick: Thanks, Dana, glad to be here.

Gardner: Also Tony Baer is making another appearance. He is principal at onStrategies. Thank for coming, Tony.

Tony Baer: Hey, Dana, good to be here.

Gardner: We’re also talking with Neil Macehiter. He is a research director at Macehiter Ward-Dutton in the U.K. Thanks for coming, Neil.

Neil Macehiter: No problem, Dana.

Gardner: And last on our list -- we have a large group today -- Jim Kobielus. Jim is a principal analyst at Current Analysis. Thanks for coming along, Jim.

Jim Kobielus: Thanks a lot, Dana. Hi, everybody.

Gardner: For our first topic this week -- and this is the week of Jan. 22, 2007 -- we’ll begin with the notion of SOA suites, a merging and definable market segment. We’re going to be looking at how mature such suites are. I suppose we should also look at the distinction between the best-of-breed-approach, where one could pick and choose various components within their SOA arsenal, or a more complete suite, a holistic full-feature set with the benefits, trade-offs, and detriments of each of these approaches.

Jim, you’re the one who was interested in this topic. Why don't you give us a little set-up as to what you think the state of the market is?

Kobielus: Thanks a lot. Over time, we’ve all been seeing this notion of a SOA suite take root in the industry’s productization of their various features, functions, and applications. Now, the big guys -- SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, webMethods, for that matter lots of software vendors -- are saying, “Hey, we provide a bigger, 'badder' SOA suite than the next guy.” That raises an alarm bell in my mind, or it’s an anomaly or oxymoron, because when you think of SOA, you think of loose coupling and virtualization of application functionality across a heterogeneous environment. Isn’t this notion of a SOA suite from a single vendor getting us back into the monolithic days of yore?

This thought came to me when I was reading a Wall Street Journal article earlier in the week about SAP, “SAP Trails Nimble Start-Ups As Software Market Matures.” There was one paragraph in there that just jumped out at me. They said, “Some argue that SAP's slump highlights a broader shift under way in business software, in which startup companies wield an advantage over established titans. Under this traditional business model companies buy large, costly packages of software from SAP and Oracle to help them run their back-office functions and so forth, but as the business software industry matures, many companies already have the big software pieces they need, and feel little urgency to replace them.”

So, clearly SAP is then sort of a driver in the SOA suite arena for few years with NetWeaver. Is the notion of SOA suite an oxymoron? Are there are best-of-breed-suites? There are also best-of-breed SOA components, and I’m not sure that the notion of a suite, an integrated suite is really what companies are looking for from SOA. They want best-of-breed components with the assurance, of course, that those components are implementing the full range of SOA standards for heterogeneous interoperability. So, I’m taking issue with this notion of a "best-of-breed" suite. Anybody else have any thoughts on that?

Macehiter: I’ll give you a couple of perspectives on this. We have to recognize that organizations increasingly are looking to rationalize their supply strategy. So, they’re increasingly looking to deal with a smaller number of vendors and suppliers, which is, in part, driving the move toward larger vendors attempting to offer a suite or portfolio of product capabilities that can help organizations manage the lifecycle of an SOA initiative.

That’s one factor that’s driving it. The second issue is the use of the term "suite," and what that really entails, versus what the market is currently delivering. Companies are putting together a bunch of products under a common brand, whether it’s Oracle Fusion, SAP NetWeaver, or under the IBM WebSphere brand. That's one thing. Actually making sure the products are well integrated and that they have a common management environment, common configuration environment, and common policy definition environment is the second thing. That’s one element of it.

The second issue is what actually constitutes a suite to support service-oriented initiatives. There is a tendency, certainly among the larger vendors, to focus on SOA from a development and integration proposition, rather than thinking more broadly about the capabilities you need to support service-oriented initiatives throughout the lifecycle. That extends beyond development and integration into things like security and identity, which have to be incorporated into an overall SOA offering.

Management and monitoring, usage management, audit logging are in the broad range of capabilities that you need. There’s a question as to whether it’s feasible for one vendor to offer all of those capabilities that you need to support an SOA initiative versus a set of core capabilities. Then the hooks in the interoperability allow you to exploit existing security and management infrastructure. There are a number of factors that we need to consider, and a lot of the SOA suite propositions are very much focused around development and integration, rather than management and monitoring, and really dealing with the lifecycle of services.

Gardner: I guess that explains and is consistent with the past. If you can have a cohesive approach to the development side, then the deployment tends to follow, and that’s where you monetize. Steve Garone, what do you think of this breakdown between best-of-breed and a suite?

Garone: All of us on this podcast today know that the debate over best-of-breed versus integrated-stack approach has been going for many years in a variety of scenarios and contexts, and it hasn’t stopped. I don’t really like the word "suite." It reeks more of marketing than functionality. I think what you really have to look at in terms of SOA is how people are actually approaching getting into building SOA-based environments.

What we’ve seen so far -- and we’ve talked about this on other podcasts -- is that up to this point people have tended to do pilot projects that are much lower in scale than what they will eventually do if they have success with the immediate projects. One tends to think that what they’re going to do at that point is pick and choose the individual products and functions that they need to make that happen in the short term.

I think that’s what we’re seeing, but I also sense that, despite the fact that everybody wants an open environment where they can pick and choose and not be tied to one vendor, what overrides all this is a desire to get things done quickly, efficiently. They want a way in which they don’t have to be concerned about integrating a lot of products and what that entails, and having potentially an unreliable environment. What that points to is working toward one vendor. End users will do that even in the short term by choosing someone that they know they can grow with in the future.

Gardner: Pragmatically, these vendors are also looking at their future and they’re saying, “We have an installed base. We have certain shops where we’re predominant. We want to be able to give them a clear path as to how to attain SOA values from their investment in our legacy. Therefore, we need to follow through with add-ons that smack of a integrated-stack approach.” So, it is almost incumbent on vendors to try to produce this "whole greater than the sum of the parts" -- if not to build out more SOA business, then just to hold on to their previous business.

Garone: That up brings up another interesting point, which is vendors, especially the platform vendors. The larger vendors, like IBM, Sun, and so on, tend to try to walk the line between being able to offer a fully integrated stack of software to accomplish whatever the goal it is -- in this case SOA implementations -- and also being what might be called “integratable.” This means you can bring in another product, because we adhere to standards, we’ll be able to help you do that.

They try to walk that line; where that really makes a difference is not so much what you are going to do in the future, but rather what you have done in the past. If you've got an existing registry that you used for identity management with your current applications, if you have existing app servers -- which is probably more common -- whomever you choose is going to have to be able to allow you to continue to work with those as part of a legacy environment. It sounds funny calling application servers legacy, but at this point you can do that, and that’s really where the "integratability" aspects of a fully integrated stack come into play.

Gardner: So how about you, Joe McKendrick? Do you see that the drive for simplicity and working from your installed base creates a compelling case for an integrated SOA approach? Or is the trade-off such that this is really not going to happen anymore? Is that the old way -- and is SOA fundamentally different, and therefore one should look for a different strategy?

McKendrick: Perhaps a little of both, Dana. Basically the industry still operates under the traditional mode where a lot of enterprises rely on one vendor -- we'll call it a master vendor -- that supplies most of its solutions. We see that in the IBM and in the Oracle markets. I agree with Jim that the notion of a SOA suite is very much an oxymoron. The idea of a SOA is to have "hot-swappable" software components that you could install and take out as needed in a loosely coupled architecture.

Dana, you hit upon the point that the vendors themselves have to demonstrate that they have some type of path to their installed base. They need some type of path to show that, "Yes, we are on top of the technology." In fact, if you speak with vendors out there about this strategy, even if the products or the path that they're offering are something customers aren’t adopting at the moment, it’s something they want to see with the vendor. If Oracle, hypothetically, wasn’t talking about SOA at all, there would be a lot of consternation, a lot of concern, among their installed base as to where the vendor is going.

Gardner: SAP would walk in, and their sales people would beat them up in these accounts, right?

McKendrick: Exactly. Now, Oracle is an interesting case. When I think of suites, I think Oracle demonstrates the best tendency in this area. In fact, they called their offering "The SOA Suite," and they include a number of components. I have spoken with some companies that have Oracle installations. Now, it should be noted that typically the customers for these suites are the installed base. The people who will be buying into the components of the Oracle SOA suite are companies that either have the Oracle applications, the E-Business suite or the Oracle database underneath. And, in most cases, they are buying into components of the suite.

I've heard a lot of positive things said about the BPEL Process Manager, for example. And, they are buying into pieces of the solutions, and as Steve pointed out -- it’s still in the pilot-project stage. We’re not seeing widespread enterprise implementations, but they are beginning to buy into pieces of these solutions such as the BPEL Process Manager.

Gardner: Hey, Tony Baer, how about you? Do you think that we are mature enough in SOA that we should be looking for homogeneity when it comes to tools and even deployment side? Or, is heterogeneity the issue that we are trying to manage?

Baer: As Steve was saying before, we can’t decompose it down to the age-old argument of best-of-breed versus integrated-stack. There is always going to be a tension between homogeneity and heterogeneity. For the customer, it’s going to be dictated obviously by what is already in place, basically as Joe pointed out. If 60 percent of my functionality, or even say 30 or 40 percent of my functionality, is SAP, I’m likely to listen when SAP tells me about a NetWeaver Solution.

On the other hand, if I’m in a sector that does not lend itself to package solutions, I will more than likely tend to take a best-of-breed approach -- especially if I do a lot of homegrown development, because my business is so unique. There will always be that creative tension there. That being said, the fact is that at the infrastructural level, there is a desire to have consistency. I don’t want to have five security engines. I don’t want to have three different authentications, if possible. Obviously, we’re never going to get that one, centralized identity repository in the sky, but I want to at least have my management framework be as consistent as possible and to manage what will inevitably be, in most large organizations, a federation of different installed bases of different technologies.

The other side of this is that for vendors -- and Oracle is probably the best poster child for this -- the reality in the enterprise software industry has been one of merger, acquisition, and consolidation. This means that vendors who started as organic developers now have four or five different product lines and each has had a separate lineage. The only way to put some rationality there is something like an Oracle Fusion SOA framework. Oracle has to develop this, if only out of the necessity to keep its own product offerings consistent.

Gardner: Now, back to Jim Kobielus’s point about this integrated approach being an oxymoron for SOA. Shouldn’t the vision of SOA allow us to have it both ways? If you have a culture and mindset in an organization, maybe it’s because of your legacy. Maybe it’s because of how you operate and the value you’ve perceived in past IT investments. Thus, you might want to remain with more of a single-vendor or an integrated-stack approach, but there might be other vendors without a legacy to drag along. The enterprise may want to take advantage of any innovation they can to be functionally heterogeneous and to explore and test open-source componentry as that becomes available. Shouldn’t SOA allow both of these approaches -- and pretty much equally?

Macehiter: In principle it should. We have to be careful to distinguish between the infrastructure that you require to enable SOA initiatives and what you’re trying to enable with that service-oriented initiative. Just because you want to have a loosely coupled component that you can combine in multiple ways to deliver business outcomes, doesn’t mean that the infrastructure that underpins that has to be similarly loosely coupled and based on the heterogeneous offerings from different vendors. So, there is a separation there.

We also we have to bear in mind the challenges around going for best-of-breed approach, which are well understood. It’s not so much whether the individual components can actually talk to one another but more about things like the management environment and how you manage the configuration and how do you deal with policy definition?

We’ve done some detailed assessments of service infrastructure offerings from SAP, BEA, IBM, Oracle, Sun, and webMethods. If you actually dig under the covers, you will see that each of the components has its own policy definition approach. So, the way you configure policy within the orchestration engine is inconsistent with the way you do it within the security and identity management capabilities, and that challenge occurs within suites. That’s going to be compounded as you look across different components. That introduces risk into the deployment. It reduces the visibility of the end-to-end deployment. It's those factors that are going to be important, as well as whether a communication and brokerage capability can integrate with the registry and repository. There are a number of factors that you have to bear in mind there.

Kobielus: I agree -- I think that the notion of a best-of-breed SOA suite makes more sense from an enterprise customer’s point of view. Most enterprises want to standardize on a single vendor and a single stack for the SOA plumbing -- the registries and repositories and also the development tools. They want the flexibility to plug in the different application layer components from Oracle and SAP and others, that are SOA-enabled and that can work with that single-core-plumbing-stack from a single vendor.

Gardner: Perhaps the tension here is between what aspects of SOA should be centralized, repeatable, simplified, and consolidated, and which ones should not. It’s not really a matter of SOA homogeneous or SOA heterogeneous. In moving toward SOA, should you say, "Listen, this is going to be common throughout. Let’s reuse this. Let’s manage our policy as centrally as possible.

"We might say the same for other federated and directory services. We might say the same for our tooling, so that we don’t have myriad tools and approaches from our developers. On the other hand, we want to have great flexibility and loosely coupled benefits, when it comes to which services, be they internal or external, be they traditional nature or more of a ‘software as a service’ nature that we can easily incorporate and then manage those as process."

So, is the dividing line here, Steve Garone, between what architecturally makes sense as centralized and not?

Garone: Actually I’ve just sort of been chomping on the bit here a little, because I’ve been listening to the conversation. This a really important point, mostly because there is a lot of stuff -- a lot of analyst opinion, a lot of blogging -- floating around that I’ve read, and I know you guys have probably read, on this very subject, the sort of philosophical dichotomy between what SOA is supposed to be and the notion of an SOA suite or a SOA integrated stack.

Frankly, from the end-user perspective, the message ought to be that the whole notion of SOA, as it relates to loose coupling, is really focused on the services and the applications that you’re going to deliver. That doesn't imply or even suggest that your infrastructure cannot be based on an integrated stack or software that’s designed to work well together. It allows you to work with a single vendor, and to be very efficient about how you both develop, deploy, and maintain and manage your environment.

Gardner: We also have to remember that this evolution of SOA is not happening in a vacuum. There are other major IT trends and business trends of worth. Many of them are focused on trying to reduce the cost of ongoing maintenance and support somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of total IT costs, and maybe more, to free up discretionary spending and to reduce the total spending for IT in many organizations. The trends often involved include data center consolidation, moving toward a more standardized approach for underlying hardware, embracing virtualization/grid/utility principles, and so on. Perhaps we have to recognize that even as SOA moves on its own sort of trajectory, organizations are going to be consolidating and looking for commonality of services, and improved support and maintenance types of features throughout their infrastructure.

Garone: Just to make one more small point. The one area that may diverge from the philosophy that we’ve been talking about is in the area of open source. I think that people who go out and try to implement SOA-based solutions on a variety of levels using open source technology may tend to take a more best-of-breed, individual-component approach than those who would run to their local IBM sales rep and say, “What do I do with SOA?” Even that’s going to change over time, and we’re starting to see SOA suites develop around open-source technology as well. So, that’s going to move in that direction as time goes on.

Gardner: That's another trend that is in tandem with SOA and needs to be woven together with it. It’s obviously a large undertaking. I‘m also reminded, after an interesting briefing I took this week with Informatica, and Ash Kulkarni. We had a really long, interesting discussion about the role of data, master data, and metadata when it comes to moving toward SOA. We really shouldn’t lose track of the fact that as you move to applications as services, and you go loosely coupled, and you adopt more reuse across development with common frameworks, and use rich internet application interfaces -- what about the data?

The data has to be managed as well. Increasingly, companies that have had mergers and acquisitions, or have just gotten myriad applications with varying views of something as specific as a customer identity -- there might be 10 or 15 different views of a customer, as defined by a variety of different applications. How do you manage that? And when you think about the progression of the data, it seems to me that if not in actuality, in a virtual sense, you want to become centralized with your data so that data can be used in a clean and impactful or productive way across all of your services.

Does anyone out there have some thoughts about what considerations to have when it comes to data in this decision about best-of-breed or integrated approach?

Macehiter: I was just going to say, the issue is that data has always been treated as a second-class citizen, and that it has been the product of applications which have then been subsequently analyzed. More organizations are recognizing this need to treat data as a peer, and deliver access to information, whether it’s structured or unstructured, as a service, which can be incorporated as needed into business process.

IBM was quick to identify this when they sold the information as a service strategy. And Oracle, surprisingly, given where they have come from, has actually not really enunciated data services, vision and platform. Although I did notice something on the Oracle Technology Network a couple of weeks ago, where they are just starting to talk about Oracle Data Integrator, based on an acquisition they made of a company called Sunopsis.

So, increasingly that's going to become part of the broader suite proposition. And, this is not just in the area of data but -- more broadly as customer adoption matures -- what constitutes an SOA suite. We’ve seen this around registry and repository, which historically was a best-of-breed proposition from the likes of Systinet and Infravio. Where are they now? They're part of a broader suite proposition from HP and webMethods, respectively. We’ll see this again.

Through acquisition what constitutes a suite will broaden as organizations become more mature in their approach to SOA. "Information as a service" is exactly one of those areas. Initially, that will probably be served by best-of-breed components, and then through a combination of acquisitions or very close partnership relationships will gradually be subsumed into what organizations believe is a SOA suite.

Gardner: Any other thoughts on the data services level and how that relates to this discussion?

Kobielus: I cover SOA for Current Analysis, primarily with reference to data management; and SOA in the data management realm is really consistent with master data management (MDM) as a discipline. Basically, master data management revolves around how you share, reuse, and enable maximum interoperability of your core master reference data, your single version-of-truth information, which is maintained in data warehouses and various operational data stores, and so forth.

Informatica is one of many vendors -- you mentioned Informatica earlier -- that has a strong MDM strategy. But there are are a lot of enterprise information integration (EII) vendors out there. EII revolves around really federated MDM, where you keep the data in its source repository, and then provide a virtualized access layer. This allows your business intelligence and other applications to access that data through a common object or model and a common set of access schemas -- wherever that data might reside -- but facilitated through a virtualized access layer. That’s very much EII as implemented by Business Objects, BEA, and many other vendors, and is very much the approach for federated MDM.

Gardner: Let me pause you there for a minute, Jim. If a virtualized centralization works for information, why wouldn’t it work for other aspects of SOA?

Kobielus: Oh, it does. Virtualization, of course, is one of the big themes in SOA.

Gardner: You can enjoy the benefits of a homogeneous approach, but, in fact, have great heterogeneity beneath the covers. Isn't that the whole idea of SOA -- to provide homogeneity in terms of productivity control management, and yet with flexibility and agility?

Kobielus: SOA, first and foremost, is a virtualization approach -- virtualization defined as an approach for abstracting the external call interface from the internal implementation of a resource, be it data or application functionality.

Gardner: So SOA is best-of-breed -- and it’s integrated. And you can pick and choose how to proceed, based perhaps on your legacy and your skill sets.

Macehiter: We just have to be clear to distinguish between the assets or resources that you’re virtualizing through SOA, which is typically going to be functional assets versus whether you need to virtualize the infrastructure and apply SOA to the underlying infrastructure. That’s the key distinguishing point. And that gets the point that was being raised earlier about virtualized access to information.

The infrastructure could be common, but the information assets that you’re accessing will be in heterogeneous repositories accessed in a number of different ways. This is exactly what IBM is doing with its offerings around information-as-a-service, and BEA as well. It's having the equivalent of application adapters by applying them to information assets and then exposing those through a service interface, so it’s virtualized and transparent: where the information is, how it’s stored and what format it’s in.

Kobielus: You mentioned Oracle’s acquisition of Sunopsis, which is interesting, because Sunopsis is an ETL vendor and the transform side of it is critically important. When you are extracting data from source repositories, you’re transforming it in various ways. Traditionally, Sunopsis’s tools have been used primarily to support transformation of data, which will then be loaded into centralized data warehouses.

But transformation functionality is important, whether you’re doing it in an ETL data warehousing environment -- in other words, the traditional bus for MDM -- or whether you’re doing the transformation in an EII environment. There, in fact, you are not ultimately loading the transform data into a central store, but rather simply transforming the data, keeping it in it’s original schema, but transforming it so it can be rationalized, harmonized, or aligned with a virtualized data access model provided by that EII environment.

Macehiter: Exactly. The transformation should occur behind the service interface, and this is why you need the idea of common information models and common schema models.

Gardner: Before we get down too much in the weeds on EII -- we can address that perhaps in a whole show in the future with a guest who is very much involved with that industry. Let’s move on to our second topic today, given the amount of time we have.

There are a burgeoning number of critical skill sets that need to be applied to SOA. We’ve talked about data, whether it’s cleansing, transforming, virtualizing and approaching some sort of a MDM capability. We have talked about development and process, BPEL. We talked about infrastructure. There is the management, the architectural overview, and what’s our philosophy.

It seems like we’re going to need a lot of very skilled people who are both generalists, as well as highly specific and technical. Because for SOA to work, a bunch of people who are highly specific -- but don’t share the same vision or have a general sense of the strategy -- probably won’t fare too well. This issue comes to us from Joe McKendrick. Joe, give us a little setup and overview of where you think things are headed in terms of the necessary skill sets companies are going to need in order to accomplish the promise of SOA.

McKendrick: Thanks, Dana. It’s interesting. Actually, the impetus for my thinking on this came from a report Ron Schmelzer posted and I reported on my blog this week.

Gardner: Ron being with ZapThink.

McKendrick: That’s correct. He is sounding the alarm bells that the folks that we need to drive SOA forward in the enterprise is this class of enterprise architects and enlightened architects, if you will. There are a lot of SOA projects everybody is interested in. Everybody’s kind of ginned up about SOA now, and we’ve been hearing about it. Enterprises really want to begin to either pilot or move SOA past the pilot stage, and 2007 should be a big year.

Ron Schmelzer feels there may not be enough architects who can take this high-level view and drive this process forward. Now, it’s interesting, but when I posted this on my blog, I got lot of feedback that perhaps architects are not the only ones who can really lead this effort. There are plenty of developers out there, high-level developers, who can also contribute to the process and interact with the business. The key behind this argument is that you need folks who know what’s going on technically, but can interact with the business. It can be a rare skill to have both.

Gardner: Yeah, this is going to be demanding. You can get Oracle-certified, you can get Microsoft-certified, IBM-certified. Where do you go to become SOA architect-certified?

McKendrick: Where do you go in terms of higher education institutes to get trained on architectural planning and network design? I’ve talked to lots of people who say, “Yeah, we look at the computer science graduates coming up, but how many of these people really, fully have had any training or courses whatsoever on broad architectural subjects like SOA?" Very few.

Kobielus: That’s true. Not to get reminiscent or anything, but 10 years ago, when we started seeing Java ramp up, we saw a lag there as well. A lot of organizations were really hungry for Java developers, and the universities came through with more focus on it, but later than probably most organizations wanted. What will happen here is that while this ramp-up goes on, we might see a lot of new business and new interest in service organizations that can provide the professional services required to get people through it.

Macehiter: Yeah, that’s true. That’s going to be an important -- absolutely an important source. Also, there’s some work under way. I don’t know whether any of you are familiar with the the International Association of Software Architects (IASA), which is really trying to foster a community that does try and share best practice around software architecture, including SOA.

You hit the nail on the head in terms of the key skills that are required around being able to interface with the business. One of the skills and attributes that you also need as a SOA architect is really this ability to balance supporting short-term business outcomes but keeping an eye on the longer-term objectives in terms of gaining high quality and maximizing IT value. That’s an equally difficult skill because too often architecture historically has been focused on quite discrete initiatives or infrastructure. I’m thinking about server architecture or network architecture rather than this broader perspective. There are skills occurring from such things as Oasis and what they are trying to do around things like SOA blueprints. It will be useful to get someone from Oasis in a future podcast to discuss this, because this is where the education is coming from.

Gardner: I think that if everyone goes about SOA methodically on his or her own track, and based on their own experience, and we are going to come up with a real mish-mash, then it’s going to be a problem. There needs to be some standardization around methodology.

Coincidentally, in April we’re expecting to see version 3 of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). This is focused on the lifecycle of services. It’s really more at the IT service-management level than pure technology, but it does offer blueprints and books and standardized approaches on how to setup an IT department and manage some of these organizational things. It strikes me that that might be another influence on bringing some kind of a cohesive approach to SOA, rather than be totally scatter-shot.

Macehiter: ITIL came out of the U.K. government. What was interesting about it is that it was driven very much from the experience of people who were grappling with these very challenges. That’s where it’s going to come from in SOA. It’s going to come from things like the IASA and others practitioners defining the best practice, rather than a more theoretical, academic approach to defining the ideal methodology.

Gardner: It's my understanding that the global systems integrators are very interested in this coming version of ITIL, and some of these other standardization-for-methodological-benefit approaches. As I’ve said before, SOA is the gift that keeps giving, if you’re a systems integrator in a professional services organization. It will be really interesting to see how successful they are at bringing a standardized set of approaches to the SOA architect role and whether that’s actually in their best interests over time.

McKendrick: And when it washes up on these shores, we’ll call it American ITIL.

Gardner: Actually the number of ITIL users is highest in the private sector and in North America, as I understand it, although it’s hard to see to what degree people actually use it. I think people use it in dribs and drabs and not in entirety.

McKendrick: It’s going to be interesting. There’s a lot of emphasis on compliance now, and data management is a big part of it as well. ITIL is really going to come into play, and should be coming into play, because processes are outsourced. Because processes are being managed by third-party firms, you need to have across-the-board standards to ensure that the data is being managed properly and in accordance with some type of universal standard. And, the regulators are going to want to see that as well.

Gardner: Well, I think we’ve come up with two separate shows we'll need to do -- one on enterprise information integration (EII) and dig in to that topic specifically; and then, perhaps, we should do an ITIL show, get someone who is familiar with some of the authoring there, and dig into its implications for SOA.

Well I think that wraps it up for today. We’ve covered quite a bit of ground in a short amount of time. I want to thank all of our guests. We’ve had Steve Garone, Joe McKendrick, Neil Macehiter, Tony Baer and Jim Kobielus. This is Dana Gardner, your host and moderator for this week’s BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition. Please come back and join us next week. Thank you.

If any of our listeners are interested in learning more about BriefingsDirect B2B informational podcasts or to become a sponsor of this or other B2B podcasts, please fill free to contact me, Dana Gardner at 603-528-2435.

Listen to the podcast here.

Transcript of Dana Gardner’s BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition, Vol. 10. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2007. All rights reserved.