Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Transcript of BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition Vol. 6 Podcast: Year in Review, Predictions for 2007

Edited transcript of weekly BriefingsDirect[TM] SOA Insights Edition, recorded Dec. 1, 2006.

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Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the latest BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition, Volume 6. This is a weekly discussion and dissection of Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) related news and events with a panel of independent IT industry analysts. I’m your host and moderator, Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Joining us this week, our panel of independent IT analysts includes show regular Steve Garone. Steve is an independent analyst, a former program vice president at IDC, and the founder of the AlignIT Group. Welcome Steve.

Steve Garone: Hi Dana. It’s great to be here today.

Gardner: Also joining us is Joe McKendrick. He’s an independent research consultant and columnist at Database Trends, as well as a blogger for ZDNet and ebizQ. Welcome, Joe.

Joe McKendrick: Hello, Dana.

Gardner: Also, a return visit from Jon Collins. He’s the principal analyst at Macehiter Ward-Dutton in the UK. Welcome back, Jon.

Jon Collins: Hi there, everyone.

Gardner: Making his debut on the show this week is Tony Baer, principal at onStrategies.

Tony Baer: Hey, Dana.

Gardner: Thanks, Tony, for coming along. This week, the week of Nov. 25, 2006, we’re coming up to the end of the year, and so we thought it would make sense to take some stock of the year in review around SOA issues. We’ve seen an awful lot this year, and 2006 is probably the most prominent year for SOA.

We’ve had a bevy of consolidation events, mergers, and acquisitions. We’ve seen some large vendors further and more deeply embrace SOA. We’ve seen startups realign themselves around the SOA message and value, and we’ve seen SOA extend, perhaps a little bit high in the stack, around application and services, and the application-as-services in more than the infrastructure.

To help us weed through some of this, our panel will be coming up with some of their own insights, as well as a round-robin approach to SOA. Let me start off. From my perspective, the biggest story of the year is consolidation: A lot of purchasing, mergers, and acquisitions. Perhaps the most impactful of these included the Red Hat acquisition of JBoss, as well as the HP acquisition of Mercury, which came on the heels of Mercury’s acquisition of Systinet.

We’ve seen many others. There was Progress and Actional/Sonic, BEA-Flashline, webMethods-Infravio, we’ve seen FileNet go to IBM, and IBM with a slew of other smaller companies. But I want to go around the table and see if there’s some concurrence around this notion that the Red Hat JBoss and the HP Mercury had perhaps the most impact in the field? Why don’t we start with our new analyst this week, Tony?

Baer: Well, I probably wouldn’t disagree too heavily with that. A problem is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish software from services, at least in terms of vendor products. So, you almost cast almost any major product introduction or acquisition with an SOA angle or SOA spin to it.

A really great example was Mercury, which prior to the Systinet acquisition, surprisingly didn’t have that big a play in services per se. They were more heavily invested obviously in testing and IT governance. The obvious question is when was this going to extend to SOA governance.

They acquired Systinet, but my sense with Mercury is that they were obviously a bit distracted this year and did not get around to absorbing Systinet as fast as they otherwise could have. Now that it’s under HP’s watch -- and without the distractions of SEC-related inquiries -- hopefully this will go along a little bit faster, and they’ll start to coalesce their SOA strategy.

Gardner: Perhaps we shouldn’t think of these as SOA mergers and acquisitions. It’s just software and services. Maybe the SOA moniker isn’t as important and has become more or less like oxygen. Do you agree with that Steve Garone?

Garone: Kind of. What drives the acquisitions -- and this is not unique to this market -- is that as people begin to adopt a technology or paradigm in terms of development, deployment, maintenance, and management, the comprehensive nature of the solution becomes more and more important.

Vendors who naturally don’t have all the pieces will try to acquire other companies that do -- to will fill in the blanks, so to speak. That’s really what’s going on here and it’s nothing new.

In terms of impact, given the two examples you cited, I think you’re on the money in terms of the ones that were the most impactful, but I think it’s also important to ask the question: impactful to whom? Let me just use the Red Hat/JBoss example to illustrate what I mean. There’s probably very little in the combined solution offered by that acquisition and merger that an end user could not get from another large vendor who provides SOA-related solutions.

It was very important from a competitive standpoint for those two companies to get together, so that they could respond in a way where they could say, “We’ve got a comprehensive answer to the SOA problem that other vendors have.” The impact from that perspective was mostly in terms of the two vendors getting together and being able to compete effectively.

There’s a secondary impact from that particular one, focused on giving more credibility and more visibility to the open-source model, which is playing, as we know, an ever increasing role in the SOA space, as well as other areas. So, yes, they were very impactful, but in that particular case I think it’s important to look at just who it’s impacting and why.

Gardner: I suppose another aspect of this is that those investors who put up money several years ago in the smaller companies that got gobbled up did okay. There was a period of time, not that long ago, when the notion of investing in a software company that was going to be focusing its business on enterprise was a no-win situation. Selling to the enterprise as a startup was difficult. Coming up with a direct sales force was going to be very hard.

SOA, in some ways, reversed that mentality. It has allowed for investment to be made in startups and smaller companies, and has also encouraged companies that may have been infrastructure-focused to adjust their focus, or at least their messaging, toward SOA.

Joe, do you think that the SOA ecology is alive and well in 2006? Do these mergers and acquisitions help that, or do you think that, conversely, when this consolidation phase is over that this investment will dry up?

McKendrick: SOA is something that is not really tangible. SOA is a methodology, a philosophy, and the vendors have a real challenge. Essentially, they’re selling a concept, not a specific product. Maybe ESBs could be example of a tangible product that’s out there, but other than that it’s really difficult to package and market a concept to the market.

With the HP acquisition of Mercury, which had earlier acquired Systinet, I wonder what's going to happen with Systinet going forward. If you look at HP, they’re still compact, but there’s a reminiscence of DEC in there, and Tandem. I could see HP perhaps building Systinet registry solutions into some of its own products, but I fear for this vendor. I think Systinet may just kind of disappear into the large organization, and we may never hear from it again.

Gardner: Systinet had a pretty good run in terms of being a perceived best-of-breed player, even after these acquisitions, so the jury remains out on that.

Let’s go to Jon Collins. Jon, on this consolidation issue, is this a flash-in-the-pan, so to speak, with consolidation? Is it going to just go through its paces and then we'll be back to half-a-dozen large vendors? Or do you think that there is a vibrant ongoing ecological development around those companies that support SOA, either as component services or approaching more of a complete solution?

Collins: Excellent question. I was just reminded, while someone else was talking, a PR person a couple of years ago said to me, “We’re going to have to look at a new name other than SOA, because it’s been around too long. We’re going to have to create a new bandwagon or something, because people are going to get bored with it.” And, here we are two years later. I think we’re only at the beginning of it.

What’s happened this year is that SOA has become mainstream, if one can say that, in the IT industry. Maybe it hasn’t in enterprise companies, but it certainly is in the IT industry. A lot of companies have acquired a smaller or larger companies in order to build their portfolio.

The one thing that’s been lacking so far -- and I’ve talked to a number of vendors about this -- is integration, which is to me the ultimate irony, because its exactly what SOA is about as a concept. It’s about helping bring together the disparate pieces.

One of the things I’ve talked to a few vendors about is the fact that they’re actually having to become service-oriented in terms of how they put together their products, deliver solutions to their own customers, and how they build more specific suites of capability that suits the needs of specific customers. We’re at the beginning of something that is all about how we move away from just having a consolidated set of resources. The point about Red Hat JBoss was well made. Everyone needs all the pieces, and now it’s a case of how they compete in terms of how they deliver the integrated solutions to the market.

Gardner: Okay, let’s go back to Tony. What would be your next pick for a top SOA story or a vendor issue for 2006?

Baer: I’m having a hard time with that, but I think if I were to pick one, it would be governance. That’s a loaded term for obvious reasons, but if you look at the whole notion of SOA, it’s supposed to make exposing your assets, and your data enterprise process assets, easier. If you think about, that kind of goes against the objectives of a lot of the regulations of enterprises.

As we open these assets up, we expose them as services. As we start to ramp up beyond pilot stage, we need control and we need to document what assets are being exposed to services, under what circumstances, to whom, and when. We have to start getting into versioning issues. What’s interesting is that until now SOA has been primarily a skunkworks operation, with few exceptions, maybe for someone like the Verizons of the world.

Mostly we’re focused on runtime governance, which is what services can we expose to which requester at run time, but that was largely in a fairly controlled environment. You’re starting to see more attention to the rest of the lifecycle. As part of that, we’re seeing not just UDDI, Systinet or Systinet cell registries.

We’re also starting to see the emergence of repositories. Something I would not have predicted a year ago is the converging of the two. It would have seemed totally illogical to me before this. At runtime you don’t want a repository with a lot of overhead. Yet I see vendors seeming to building brute-force solutions, just like years ago they brute-forced relational databases, so that their performance was not all that bad compared to legacy databases. So, I guess that in answer to your question, the one thing I would say would be governance.

Gardner: I guess I agree with that. I wondered earlier in the year why this emphasis on governance. It seemed that the value here was that, you’re going to be headed toward some sort of a train wreck if you ramp up SOA, so we have to put governance into play.

Yet as you pointed out, these things remain predominantly as pilots, isolated -- not horizontal, not yet at the scale where the system is breaking down under load, pressure and volume. Yet, there is this big drive to governance. I thought a little bit about that, and I recognized that governance is a way of extending SOA into a larger role of transformation, taking over where policy and even directory left off.

It’s sort of a land grab by these vendors into this larger domain of how to actually manage your business, not just your IT. And it portends the possibility of joining IT governance with corporate governance at some level. So, that’s a big enchilada, a big opportunity. Do you agree with that, Steve? Do you think that this is a land grab, this governance thing, or are they really reacting to what’s a scaling issue?

Garone: I think there’s some of that, although typically what happens in that particular cycle is that a vendor will understand and raise the issue and make it prominent, because they’ve got a solution. Then other vendors will jump in and start creating and talking about nuance that the original vendor can’t deal with -- and what results after that is some level of confusion and lack of understanding on the part of the end user as to how to approach solving that problem. Eventually it all shakes out, of course, but that’s usually the cycle that’s takes place.

If I were going to talk about some of the major highlights of SOA in 2006, that brings me to one point that I think stands out. There’s been a lot of talk about enablers to SOA -- governance, ESBs, which I think is another very important one. Because of the way vendors approach providing solutions, sometimes the enablers become a point of confusion to the point where it actually slows down adoption.

I think some of that is taking place with SOA. I think some confusion around standards is also playing a role in that. I forget who it was earlier who said that they feel we’re right at the beginning of SOA adoption, I agree with that, and when we talk in a little while about trends in 2007, I think that’s going to come out more clearly.

So, yes, I think that vendors are trying to do a land grab, but in the process they may be introducing a level of confusion that may actually be slowing down adoption in a big way.

Gardner: How About you, Jon? Do you think that this movement toward governance and the alignment, if not mashing up, of repository and register, is this just a reaction to the potential scale issues of SOA or is this really trying to broaden the purview of SOA into a higher business set of issues?

Collins: I think it’s broadening its horizons. SOA, certainly from my experience, came out of the developer world, in terms of evolving out of component-based development and out of the Web-service based application space. It’s really a post-deployment characteristic of enterprise architecture, and if that’s the case, then it needs to built in. There’s operational management. There’s deployment management. How do we cope with this stuff once we’ve got it? The idea of a registry, the idea of a repository of assets, all of these things start to kick in.

It’s broadened out from it’s original space and it’s gone into a place where governance is much more necessary, but equally it’s a symptom of maturity. A lot of IT starts in terms of innovation, where people are pretty much left to work out how. Networking started with people saying, “Hey look, we can join this to this,” and then suddenly everyone’s joining everything to everything. After that, people are saying, “Shouldn’t we start to work out whether or not we should be joining things together?” And there’s a level of maturity that I think we’re hitting with SOA, which means that governance becomes far more important.

Gardner: I suppose that if eventually you have to get the sign-off from a CEO or a very high-level executive on investing in SOA activities or continuing to invest in integration at any level, it might be nice to walk into that leaders office and say, “Hey, not only are you going to get some more efficiency and some agility and faster time-to-market for your applications, but we’re going to give you a dashboard where you can actually go in and see what’s going on, vis-à-vis IT into your business processes. We might even give you a couple of dials and knobs where you can start turning up and down or prioritizing.”

Over to you Joe, can we use this governance thing as a way of bringing to the chief executives of these major corporations more controlled visibility into IT -- and therefore into their businesses?

McKendrick: Absolutely, Dana. In fact, look at most enterprises. They’re not going to take any projects seriously unless there’s some aspect of governance. By governance I think we’re talking about two levels here. There’s the nitty-gritty deployment, management, registry, repository, versioning aspect of what’s being done with the artifacts, and with the services that are being put out there. Then there’s the governance we speak of, which involves bringing in the business and asking the business what they need out of IT, what they need out of the technology.

Be it a committee or an evangelist within the enterprise, you need some type of board, body, committee, or team that represents a cross-section of the business that can look at what they need and interact with the IT department to bring about the solutions that are required for the business. IT can’t operate in a vacuum and doesn’t. It’s not IT’s fault, but they can’t have the sense of what a business needs, or what the business units need from week to week or month to month. You need that business input and that the high-level definition of governance. That’s the only way SOA can be sold into the organization.

Collins: I totally agree, and furthermore this is a fundamental re-alignment. We’re actually seeing the business itself take more and more of an active role in these issues, and talking about things like IT risk with relation to the overall business risk landscapes. IT is actually seen as a valid part of the businesses, rather than seeing IT -- as often it’s seen – as a little place with a bunch of geeks developing stuff. So, yes, absolutely, and it’s being driven by both sides.

Gardner: All right, let's move on to our next big issue from 2006. To you, Steve Garone. You mentioned ESBs, and you mentioned the possible negative impact of over-emphasizing -- not the main course, but some of the side dishes for SOA. So my question to you is, is ESB your next big story of the year? If so, do you think that we’ve watered this one down, that people don't have a firm idea of what ESB’s are? What’s the story around ESB’s this year?

Garone: It’s fair to say that ESBs were at least one of the top stories in 2006 in relation to SOA. That makes sense, because as people started to adopt a SOA approach, whatever that meant to them, they were searching around for the right infrastructure elements that they needed, in order to make that architecture work for them. The notion of an ESB is right at the core of that. In fact, when I was thinking about what we were going to talk about today, the two issues on my list that stood out the most were governance and ESBs.

Some of the confusion around ESBs has stemmed from the fact that they’re pretty big items in terms of what they’re capable of doing. The reality is that a lot of organizations may not need a full ESB, as many vendors are defining it, to make their environments work. They may already have some of the integration capabilities. They may have some of the event-handling capabilities in place, and they really may just need some mediation and governance elements added in, in order to make their environments work. That’s introduced a bit of confusion that has caused some grief amongst end users, at least the ones that I talked to.

There’s a tendency also to look in the other direction in terms of sort of creating an “Uber ESB,” if you will, one instantiation of that being in the form of a JBI implementation that will allow people, regardless of how they’ve chosen to implement the functionality, to bring that all together and integrate that into a complete environment. What you then get into is, “How do I navigate the world of standards to make sure that I’m adopting this and implementing it in the right way.”

So, ESBs have been very prominent. There’s been a lot of noise, news, and discussion about ESBs, a lot of product announcements in 2006. I think you’re going to see that continue in 2007, hopefully in a way that clarifies and brings together the activities to something that’s coherent and therefore makes organizations feel comfortable that they can move forward.

Gardner: We saw, just recently, announcements -- roll outs, I suppose, more appropriately -- from IBM and JBoss around ESB. There’s been some open-source activity. We’ve got a couple of Apache Foundation projects that are ESB-related that IONA’s active with. The question to the rest of the group is, do you see ESBs remaining standalone? Does this become something you take as a component, as a best of breed, or is this something that should be baked into a larger solution, approach or a technological approach to SOA?

Baer: I would vote for the fact that it becomes part of your general platform, your general infrastructure. I don’t see ESB as being an end. It’s a means to an end, and as Steve was saying, there are many different functions that an ESB can or should perform, and that’s going to depend on what your existing IT infrastructure is. It’s going just like governance. It’s going to become an extension of whatever your service platform is.

What’s very interesting is that in the past year IBM finally admitted that ESBs are not just an architectural pattern, it’s actually the real product. There’s been a lot of confusion, fear, uncertainty, and doubt out there as to what ESBs actually are. What I would love to see -- and of course this would probably never happen -- is some industry consensus, “Here’s a Lego blocks model. Here are different things that an ESB can do.”

But, guess what? In some cases, if you already have TIBCO in your environment, or something like that, you may not need, for example, the capabilities that a lot of ESBs have. So, I would love a building-block approach.

Gardner: We can probably loosely define ESBs as EAI, but with more hooks and on-ramps and off-ramps.

Garone: Hooks and standards.

Gardner: Hooks and standards, there you go.

McKendrick: To Microsoft the ESB probably meant enterprise service buses or those vehicles that employees ride around on at the Redmond campus. It seems that Microsoft has gotten on board with the ESB concept lately as well, which surprised a lot of observers, because Microsoft usually likes to take its own route with things and not buy into the acronym of the moment.

Gardner: That would be more hooks than standards then, wouldn’t it?

McKendrick: Probably, yes, highly integrated within .NET Framework and the Windows Communication Foundation.

Gardner: Moving on to standards, Joe, you had an interesting blog the other day about the WS.* standards. And I wonder if you thought that that was perhaps an issue by omission. It seems to me that there was a certain atrophy in 2006 around SOA standards. We did have BPEL come out with a 2.0 major release, upgrade, improvement -- but what’s the status of specifications and standards for SOA? Was this sort of a lull in the action this year?

McKendrick: Well, Dana, most of the standards focus on web services, and there are folks out there that would say SOA isn’t just about web services. It’s probably 90 percent of what SOA is about, but most of the activity is been around web services. Some of the standards are highly adopted everywhere you look, of course XML being the prime example of that.

You have SOAP and then WSDL, which are ubiquitous everywhere you go. The WS-splat or WS-* standards have been another story. There’s been a lot of controversy, a lot of confusion. In surveys I’ve done, I’ve seen some very low levels of knowledge -- let alone adoption -- of the WS-splat array, with the exception of WS-Security, which has been taking off fairly nicely and proving itself in many situations. You’re right Dana, it has been a build year/build season for the standards bodies this year.

Gardner: Jon, do you concur with that, that the standards had evolved and it was time for the implementations to catch up? And, should we read anything more into that?

Collins: That’s probably a good way of putting it. The other standard I’d bring into it is the management side of things. While there may not have been many great advances in the standards themselves, it’s more of an aligning of vendors behind the various standards or an agreement that there’s going to be a interoperability between them.

If you’ve got, let’s say WS-Security or WS-Policy, because of the nature of SOA and how it actually needs everything to be ready before any parts of it can work, that’s a very broad statement. But if you’re trying to manageably deliver multi-vendor, multi-application, multi-system environments in an enterprise context, a lot of these things are there already.

While some standards that were actually quite advanced to be able to roll out full fact SOA, a lot of other standards are still in catch-up. We’ve got standards that are saying, “Come on guys, let’s get out there and do the job.” Meanwhile, things like management are saying, “Hey, we’re coming. We’re on our way. We’re a bit behind. We’re still try to work out of what a CMDB is and how to talk to each other, but we’re on our way and will be there shortly.”

Gardner: All right, before we move into the prediction’s phase, I wonder if anyone else out there had a major issue from 2006 they wanted to raise as one of significant importance.

Collins: I’ll just say one word about Microsoft. Maybe the fact they even mentioned SOA was a pretty good incidence, if not a major happening.

Baer: Actually, I’ll add one thing to that which is that Microsoft has even felt compelled to publish a web page listing which standards they will support. When would you ever have thought that Microsoft would’ve ever published such a page in the past.

Gardner: Probably the same time they came out and supported Linux.

Collins: It was within a month, wasn’t it?

Gardner: Well, as a matter of fact Jon, we did a recent BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition on the SOA-Microsoft question. So, moving into 2007, next year, we’ve talked about some levels of maturation. We’ve talked about some technology developments, some vendor activity, but the question still remains is when do we move SOA -- and I do emphasis "when" and not "if" -- from the pilot and skunkworks-type of approach to, “This is how we’re going to do more of our IT, more of our development, more of our process in modeling. We are going to build this out?”

So let’s go around. Is 2007 the year for the SOA build-out, or are we being a little bit too optimistic? How about you, Steve?

Garone: It will be the beginnings of what you’re terming as a SOA build-out, but I’d like to deal with less of a product- or a vendor-related issue now and talk a little bit more about end-user organizations themselves. I’m still amazed, somewhat amazed at how much I’m hearing organizations talk about two issues.

One is that we hear about IT, business analysts, and business people working together to come up with requirements and actually having tools where they can work together to build business processes and then implement them and support them with services. But, little of that is actually going on and being effective within organizations. I hear a lot of folks on both sides of that pointing fingers and claming that the other one doesn’t get it, and that’s sort of manifesting itself in several ways.

It’s partially responsible for the pilot-nature of implementations that you see today in most of our organization that have tried SOA. I think it’s also responsible for the overall slowness with which you see this moving through some organizations. Over 2007, I think you’re going to see some shake-out and some advancement in terms of building that bridge between the two organizations within corporations that want to do SOA and therefore forming the foundation for moving on, but I don’t quite think we’re there yet.

Gardner: So, for 2007, if we could put some sort of a metric on adoption, with 1 being no further movement from 2006, and 10 being a total SOA in place, architecturally across the board, where do you think the dial, the meter, the needle, will go to in 2007?

Garone: There are two elements to that. Organizations that have not done it yet are going to, for the most part, remain down at the 3 or 4 level, if 3 or 4 level is defined as doing small-pilot implementations. Some percentage, say 25 percent to 30 percent of those organizations that have gotten to that first stage, will move on in a big way. I still believe that there are some impediments, having in some part to do with organizational issues and the relationships between IT and business, that are going hold that up a bit.

Gardner: Just to poke a little fun at our own industry, the IT research business, we can safely say from reports that have come out in 2006 that somewhere between 10% and 90% of enterprises will be doing SOA.

Garone: Well, yes, that’s true.

Gardner: What are your other predictions for 2007?

Garone: Getting back to one of the issues that we talked about earlier, the whole ESB issue and its place in an overall infrastructure that supports SOA will get pretty much resolved and be much clearer to end users as we get toward the end of 2007. I also think that there’s going to be a lot of work around registry, repository, and standards, mostly because as organizations start really using SOA to support real business processes with services, there’s going to have to be a lot in the way of semantic-level information and defining relationships that are going to be have to be incorporated in a real robust repository. So, I think from the product standpoint, those are two areas where we’re going to see a lot of advancement.

Gardner: Okay, how about you Tony? What are your predictions for SOA in 2007?

Baer: A couple of things. First, a more general trend, which is not SOA specific. We're no longer in the era of big-bang implementations. So, in terms of the pace of SOA adoption, it’s going to be a pretty boring answer: It’s just going to continue to be incremental.

You’ll see several hot-spots in organizations that are dealing with certain consequences of M&A, for instance, where they need to link to general ledger systems or something like that. You’ll see some opportunistic SOA there. Otherwise, it will be that the leaders will continue, those that have been leaders in 2006. Like the Verizons of the world. I hate to keep harping on that. I saw them working outside my house yesterday. So, I figure that they have some ambitious initiatives on the table there. But, I think the mainstream will incrementally get to the first things beyond the skunkworks stage.

Gardner: How about on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no further movement from 2006 and 10 being full metaphysical SOA implementations?

Baer: I was going to say about a 3 or 4, just averaging things out. The Verizons of the world may be at about a 5. Whereas say the mainstream was probably at a 2 or a 3, but that still is progress.

Gardner: Okay, Jon Collins, what are your predictions for 2007?

Collins: Predictions for 2007: The thing that we’re going to see the most of is what we’ve talked about already as industry acceptance of SOA in 2006. In 2007, we’re going to see an enterprise acceptance of SOA. In terms of adoption levels, people aren’t going to suddenly sort of rip out everything that they’ve got and say, “Let’s paint the whole town SOA.” But there will be more of an understanding of where it can benefit the organization.

When there are projects that are appropriate, they will be done in a way that encourages and helps develop more service orientation inside the organization. That fits in with the need for and the delivery of improved governance of better relationships between IT and business, a better understanding of business issues on the technology side. So, it’s everything, all moving forward at once, and without that you can’t really do SOA.

The other thing is that it does go all the way down the stacks. We could talk to SAP. I’m talking to clients at the moment who are doing SAP rationalization projects. We could talk to HP about how they’re providing a platform to support applications, and talk to Cisco about Service Oriented Network Architecture (SONA). If you’ve got something that can be understood as a service delivery, then they’re putting in place the network facilities to support that. Then, you can even talk to the service providers, the British Telecoms, who are putting in place some service delivery networks.

It goes all the way down the stack, and I think we’re going to see that integration, top to bottom, become more of a reality in all those companies that I’ve just talked about there. They’re doing it for themselves right now, and they’re going to start doing it with each other, which will be a change.

Gardner: So the good news is that SOA affects everything and the bad news is that SOA affects everything.

Collins: Absolutely.

Gardner: On your scale of 1 to 10 next year?

Collins: I put it down as the difference between acceptance and implementations. I’ll still put it down as between 2 and 3. It’s low, but it’s a good low.

Gardner: It's 20 percent, it’s double digits.

Gardner: Joe McKendrick, 2007?

McKendrick: SOA is a very amorphous concept. It’s not a tangible concept, and SOA as a term has crested, as we’ve discussed in this conversation. It wouldn’t surprise me if we started seeing more vendors move toward some other terminology or other focus in their marketing efforts at the vendor level. Maybe we’re going to be hearing more about EDA, Event Driven Architecture. It has more of an action sound to it. It’s something new, and it has that real-time aspect that ties into business intelligence, and can be integrated well within business intelligence solutions.

So, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw vendors moving away from SOA terminology and toward things such as EDA, maybe software as a service. Maybe we’ll be hearing more about that. At the enterprise level, the end users in the trenches, where the real work takes place, there’s going to be slow, steady progress toward the SOA model. It’s not going to be a revolutionary thing happening in 2007. It’s going to be evolutionary. There are going to be more pilot projects moving into the enterprise production space. What may mitigate this, and what would be interesting to watch over the coming year, is the availability of staff, availability of the right skills.

The economy has been going well. I don’t know what 2007 will bring, but by all indications, IT budgets are holding up and there’s been already shortages of the right types of skills. For enterprises that need to keep their day-to-day operations going, it maybe difficult to allocate the human resources to really move SOA projects forward.

Gardner: On a scale of 1 to 10, increase in SOA adoption in 2007?

McKendrick: Two, a solid 2.

Gardner: We’re going down, we’re going down. I’ve got a few predictions myself that I'd like to throw out. I think we can also look to 2007 as being the year of modeling. I think we’re going to see a lot more product and specification and methodology around the modeling of services that can leverage and exploit some of the activity from 2006 around this governance and the registry and repository. I’m expecting some much improved tools, graphical tools, and some innovative approaches to how to choreograph -- and that plays into your event-driven stuff, too.

I’m also predicting that this notion that Web 3.0, which is better characterized as the "Semantic Web," will offer on one hand competition against the SOA messaging and value, but more importantly offer a tag-team approach. We’ve discussed this a little bit before around Web 2.0.

If we do start getting some specifications, and as IP Version 6 becomes more widely deployed around the world, we’ll get much richer in approaching this level of a semantic Web capability on the network. If you can combine that with what you’re doing internally, that that’s one of the big tipping points for the further adoption of SOA.

I’ll use that as my opportunity to say I see about a 4 in terms of actual SOA adoption increase, so 40 percent, which is pretty big. I’m going to go on the top side of this trend for our group.

I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that I’m going to expect some big SOA-related acquisitions again in 2007, and I’m going to look to SAP and Oracle as likely candidates for acquiring other companies. The net-net on that is the application guys are going to start to flex their muscles on SOA. If you have both the infrastructure and the applications, and then you produce the SOA benefits, that’s a very advantageous place to be.

That’s it from me. Anyone else want to chime in on 2007?

Garone: Yeah, I want to respond to a couple of things. Let me start with what you just said around the enterprise apps vendors. That was one 2007 prediction that I had on my list, driven by something a lit bit different than what you said, though. One of the empirical pieces of feedback that I get often from end users is that they’re waiting and pining for the day when they’re not wrapping their legacy apps anymore in Web services standards and, all this stuff will be essentially done for them by the people who provide the applications.

Gardner: SOA-native-as-services.

Garone: Native as services, exactly right. I think you’re going to start seeing the SAP’s and the Oracle’s and everyone else that services that market, stepping up in a big way to help solve that problem, so I completely concur with you on that.

One of the proof points that I didn’t mention earlier -- I’d mentioned it in a previous podcast -- is the lack of synergy, integration, and operability between the business side and the IT side in real life. Most of the end users I talk to, when I see them present, when I talk to them in detail about their SOA activities, they really just cite cost savings. They mention raw cost savings in terms of development and operations as really the primary, and in some cases only, benefit of doing an SOA implementation.

We all know, as analysts and people who have talked a lot about SOA and how they can benefit organizations, that that’s a very narrow view. What that tells me is that the business case, the true comprehensive business case, still hasn’t been met in a lot of cases, and hasn’t been articulated very clearly. I think that’s going to start turning around in 2007.

Gardner: When you emphasize the modeling and the applications, you start getting closer to that business-level benefit?

Garone: I agree. The other thing I would just say very quickly is that -- and I’ve mentioned this before – it’s going to be harder and harder to divorce the services approach to building solutions from the virtualization area that a lot of companies are looking at, because they’re looking to do them at around the same time, and they’re very closely related.

So, we’re going to see more of a comprehensive view of that, not only in terms of how organizations want to implement it, but from vendors as a response. I also think you’ve defined a good podcast topic for the future in Web 3.0.

Gardner: We’ll be there. All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. Let’s quickly go around the table for purposes of disclosure. If there are any vendors that were mentioned or implicated today that you do business with, it would be a nice time for you to mention that, so that we all have a sense of where we’re coming from. Why don’t you go first, Steve?

Garone: At this point I would just list IBM.

McKendrick: IBM, and I’ve also done work with Systinet.

Collins: Mercury, so HP I guess.

Baer: Mercury, ditto.

Gardner: I’m going to disclose that I’ve worked with Borland, Cape Clear, Eclipse Foundation, Hewlett-Packard, IONA, and I think that’s probably it.

All right. Thanks very much. Also, 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. That’s it for this week’s, and I suppose this year’s, SOA Insights Edition. I’m your moderator and host, Dana Gardner. Thanks for joining.

Listen to the podcast here.

Transcript of Dana Gardner’s BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition, Vol. 6. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2006. All rights reserved.

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