Showing posts with label OMG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OMG. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Analysts on the Semantic Web, Abode and Open Source Flex, and the Future of UDDI

Edited transcript of weekly BriefingsDirect[TM] SOA Insights Edition podcast, recorded April 27, 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 Interarbor Solutions at 603-528-2435.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the latest BriefingsDirect, SOA Insights Edition, Vol. 17, a weekly discussion and dissection of Services 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 blogger and Redmond Developer News Magazine columnist. Our panel this week, and this is the week of April 23rd, 2007, consists of Joe McKendrick.

Joe McKendrick: Pleasure to be here, Dana.

Gardner: Thank you for joining us, Joe. Joe is a research consultant, a columnist at Database Trends and a blogger at ZDNet and ebizQ.

Also joining us today is Jim Kobielus. He is a principal analyst at Current Analysis. Welcome back Jim.

Jim Kobielus: Thanks a lot Dana. Hi everybody.

Gardner: We are also joined this week by Dave Linthicum. He is the CEO of Linthicum Group. Welcome back, Dave.

Dave Linthicum: Thank you very much, Dana.

Gardner: And last, but not least today, Todd Biske. He is an enterprise architect with MomentumSI, an Austin, Texas consultancy. Thanks for joining us Todd.

Todd Biske: Thanks for having me again, Dana.

Gardner: We’re going to be digging into a few topics today. The first, the Semantic Web. We’ve heard quite a bit about Web 2.0+, perhaps even Web 3.0, the whole notion of a more intelligent web, something that provides things in an automated fashion with some intelligence. Of course, there is going to be more than one definition of Semantic Web, and we are going to dig into that too.

Second, and in a possibly related area, we’re going to discuss Red Hat's acquisition of MetaMatrix. There’s also some other news by Red Hat this week about some bundling and a concentration on SOA and it’s values.

Last, or perhaps third, I saw an interesting post by Joe McKendrick this week, something around IBM dissing UDDI and calling for new standards. We’re going to ask him about that. And also, Dave Linthicum had some posts this week in his blog about a Gartner study and the good news and bad news about SOA. We’re going to ask him to fill out that topic a little bit.

But, let’s dig into the first issue of the day. This was brought up by Jim Kobielus, the whole notion of Semantic Web. It’s been perking up on the radar and showing up in a lot of different places. We wanted to see if there’s anything new going on and if there’s any convergence with what we refer to as Web 2.0 and even Enterprise 2.0. So, let me first go to Jim Kobielus. Jim, why are you interested in the Semantic Web and how would you define it?

Kobielus: Well, Dana, I'm like everybody else on this call. I've got a very reptilian, scaly, analyst skin, and so I'm a bit cynical about the notion of a Semantic Web, as many are, but nonetheless, the topic keeps coming back to the surface. I saw a couple of articles in the past two weeks, in which the topic of the Semantic Web got trucked out again. This time, I saw one article where it was called Web 3.0, and I thought, “Oh, my Lord, we haven’t even decided that we are all in agreement on the notion of Web 2.0.”

So Semantic Web, as a concept, is still in play, and as you are probably all aware, the term was essentially coined or popularized by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. There is an activity at the World Wide Web Consortium that’s been going on for a few years now to define various underlying standards and specifications, things like OWL and Sparql and the whole RDF and Ontologies, and so forth.

Gardner: On the standards list is also the IP, the Internet Protocol Version 6.0. That’s in that mix as well.

Kobielus: Right. It’s still in play as a concept, and people are still energized to invest it with meaning and substance. So, what is the Semantic Web? Well, to a great degree, it refers to some super-magical metadata description and policy layer that can somehow enable universal interoperability on a machine-to-machine basis, etc. It more or less makes the meanings manifest throughout the Web through some self-description capability.

It’s a "boil the ocean" type of initiative, and it’s been going on for a few years. Of course, when you boil the ocean, you generally get a lot of plankton. So, is there anything useful in this plankton that’s been boiled out of the ocean of Semantic Web? I think there is something, and I am not going to bring in the whole notion of Web 3.0. It’s a distraction, unless you’re going to tie it right back to this week’s news.

As you mentioned, one thing that happened this week was that Red Hat, the open-source company, announced its intention to acquire a company called MetaMatrix. MetaMatrix is in a niche of the data management arena that’s often called either EII (enterprise information integration) or data federation. They're not the only player in this space. There are many others, IBM, Business Objects, Ipedo, Sybase, Composite Software. Many of these have EII products and what they all do is provide a semantic layer that essentially virtualizes and abstracts heterogeneous data resources, mediates data dynamically on the fly, and presents that data in a unified data model or structure to end users.

Gardner: Jim, this is stuff that's being done inside the firewall and primarily on premises and within enterprises, right?

Kobielus: Yeah, primarily it’s being done within enterprises, but to varying degrees it’s being done across B2B environments as well, where you have diverse data on your ERP system. You have your line-of-business apps, transactional databases, web sources, and so on, and you’re not consolidating that data into a data warehouse. Rather, you're leaving all that data in the source repositories and dynamically mapping it to composite, unified views. What I am getting at is that there are a lot of vendors of these EII products that provide a semantic layer. Probably, the most widely used is Business Objects. They call it "Universe" capability. So, to some degree, this sounds like the Semantic Web.

Gardner: Now, hold on. Shouldn’t we again go to that point? Shouldn’t we call it the Semantic Intranet? It’s not really Web. It’s not standard. It’s not taking information off the Web. This is usually data and information that’s within the confines and control of the organization.

Kobielus: The World Wide Web, as a phenomenon, really took off when it was adopted inside companies in their intranets. So, the whole notion of a "semantic Web," to the extent that we can all agree on a definition, won’t really come to the fore, until there is substantial deployment inside of enterprises. I agree with you there.

Conceivably, these EII vendors are providing a core piece of infrastructure that could be used to realize this notion of a Semantic Web, a way of harmonizing and providing a logical unified view of heterogeneous data sources. Red Hat, one of the leading open source players, is very geared to SOA and building an SOA suite. Now, they are acquiring an EII vendor, which itself is very SOA focused. So, you’ve got SOA; you’ve got open source; you’ve got this notion of a semantic layer, and so forth. To me, it’s like, you’ve stirred it all together in the broth here.

That sounds like the beginnings of a Semantic Web that conceivably could be universal or “unversalizable,” because as I said, it’s open source first and foremost. The super-distribution model of open source, a la Red Hat, will conceivably propel some sort of Semantic Web into universality. I think this is an important event. Anyway, I want to hear what everybody else on the panel thinks about this notion.

Gardner: Now, hold on for a second here. You are the pessimist on this topic. So, I can hardly wait to hear the optimists. Furthermore, I just want to remind our readers that in the past on this show we've discussed the importance of a data-services layer. We should perhaps make that a priority even over other SOA activities or oriented activities, so that you can access data regardless of its origins and across different services and business process activities. So, we've been on top of this notion of metadata and a data-services layer as an important element moving towards SOA activities. Now, let’s throw it out to the group. Is anybody else a pessimist on this topic of the Semantic Web and whether that would evolve from SOA and internal enterprise activities, and then percolate beyond?

Linthicum: I'm a little confused about why it has taken us so long to realize this, because it’s been around for such a long time. I was just doing some Web searches, and I wrote some pieces three or four years ago around the Semantic Web and it’s use and play in both integration and SOA. I was kind of taken aback at the time that no one really cared, because I thought it was a very valuable notion. If we build on this, it does solve a lot of key problems. You end up dealing with universal semantics, how that relates to B2B domains, and how that relates to the enterprise domains.

As I'm deploying and building SOAs out there in my client base, semantic mediation ultimately is a key problem we’re looking to solve. This is the point you just made Dana. We have to have a better grasp on the data, how to extract that data into data services, and then apply those data services into our SOAs.

Gardner: Do you think that there is an opportunity for a standardized approach that would, in fact, encompass the World Wide Web, rather than this being done piecemeal, company by company?

Linthicum: I think so, and I think there are a couple of opportunities here. We like to test things out on the Web and then drive it into the enterprise. There are a number of instances of that. Even the AJAX deployments I see today are more enterprise based than Internet delivered based, and the same thing will happen with the Semantic Web. It’s a key, universal standard that lots of people are accepting. People are going to vote through the usage of it, ultimately figure out if it's going to have value on the Web as an inter-company thing or Internet universe thing, and then drive that into the private SOAs that people are building.

Gardner: How about you Todd Biske? You seem to come down on the side that practicality is paramount, and that the people don’t use it, regardless of how elegant and visionary it might be, if it's for naught. Do you have, a particular position on the pessimism meter on this?

Biske: I’m going to take my usual, pragmatic approach with this. First off, I agree with Dave that semantics is a really a critical piece in being successful with SOA. And I challenge the notion that you’re going to run into it whenever you’ve got these data-integration scenarios, whether it’s B2B or completely internal to the company. The issue that we run into is that it's still a very specialized discipline. There are a number of people, and I am not one of them, who really understand the technologies behind it deeply, and are continuing to push forward, but they haven’t yet found a way to really have it make sense to the average developer.

The average developer is still focused on the functionality of the business solution that they're providing. They know that they may have data in two different formats and they view it in a point-to-point fashion. They do what they have to do to make it work, and then go back to focusing on the functionality, not really seeing the broader semantic issues that come up when you take that approach.

It’s no different than just building out an SOA. People are still thinking in terms of their silos, and not thinking outside of the box and how it’s going to impact things in a long-term fashion. So, until we are able to have this hit home to the developer community, and really have them understand how they can take semantics, they can take that metadata, incorporate it into their development processes. It’s still going to be a very slow go.

Gardner: Well, that relates to another recurring theme here on BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition, and that is, “Should developers who are in the weeds be the drivers on this, or is this an architectural, strategic-level activity? And, who is in the position of driving that?” What do you think, Joe McKendrick? Should developers be concerned with this in terms of jumpstarting it, or does this have to happen at a higher level, perhaps across industries? Vertical industries of course have a great deal to gain by this if they can create semantics around their particular business issues, and then make more services and resources in automation available to the developers.

McKendrick: It’s going to come from both directions -- from the top of the organization and from the developers within organizations. How’s that for a definitive answer? On the part of corporations, there is always resistance to exposing too much data and exposing too many of their applications to the outside. A little bit of this has been melting away, as we’re seeing the rise of software as a service, and from surveys and anecdotal data.

Information I’ve seen in recent months indicates that there is lot of interest in the whole software-as-a-service model. A colleague of ours over at ZDNet, Dion Hinchcliffe, encapsulated the view of Web 2.0. He calls the Web 2.0 "The Global SOA," meaning that a lot of the standards and services that you see in an SOA behind the firewall these days will be available in a global sense from the Semantic Web or from the Internet at large. And a lot of the services, standards, etc. that we will adopt and see in companies will gradually, more and more come in from the outside -- from the Global SOA, if you want to call it that.

Gardner: That helps us conceptually, if we think of SOA in terms of the reuse, mixing and matching, aggregating, and compositing the free access to services. If we apply that to the larger Web, then think of software as a service and the APIs that are increasingly available from the likes of Google,, Amazon, eBay, and Microsoft, then we can see SOA principles inside the organization and then Web 2.0 principles outside. But technically, isn’t there still a huge disconnect between what is referred to as EII and master data management (MDM) and what others are referring to as the Semantic Web? Isn’t this really still orthogonally an entirely different kind of technical approach, Jim Kobielus?

Kobielus: Are you asking whether EII and MDM are different approaches? Can you clarify?

Gardner: I'm trying to get at the point that conceptually we have a common thinking and methodology around SOA internally, and then Web 2.0 externally, in terms of mashups and services that are available. But on the data aspect, I still think that there is a pretty large disconnect to try to make these two areas conceptually fit on the technical level in regards to EII and master data management activities internally, across B2B ecologies, or vertical industry ecologies. It’s still very distinct from what we’re talking about on the larger World Wide Web, the things that Tim Berners-Lee and others are getting close to in terms of Semantic Web and Web 3.0.

Kobielus: That’s quite right. Basically, you can look at semantic interoperability as being the global oceanic concern. Wouldn’t be great if every single application, data base, or file that was ever posted by anybody anywhere on the Internet somehow, magically is able to declare its full structure, behavior, and expectations?

That’s the "boil the ocean" aspect of it that everybody keeps focusing on, but then you can look at semantic interoperability in a well-contained way as being specific to a particular application environment within an intranet or within a B2B environment. Many vendors in the master data management or EII space are approaching it from that direction. In other words, they are providing pre-built domain models with standard data definitions, metadata, ETL rules, governance workflow rules, etc., as a standard component of their applications.

These are applications running out like an MDM or an EII substrate that they will sell in to particular niches or segments, such as enabling customer data integration within an organization or enabling a supply chain optimization on a B2B basis, where there is essentially this shrink-wrapped semantic model that’s provided as part of the overall application. That is semantic interoperability, because what’s happening then is that the vendor, and/or its ISV partners, and/or the customers are taking the semantic domain model and modifying it to their particular requirements.

So, that is very much, in a sense, the Semantic Web. It’s semantic interoperability out of the box that doesn’t rely necessarily, or very much, on things like RDF and all of these other specifications that are sitting on the sideline and are represented in today’s EII market.

Gardner: So, to Todd’s point, it’s still point-to-point, and we're not doing this on any automated or holistic basis, but, gee, wouldn’t it be great if we could? Let’s take a look, though, at Google and its effect in the market. While there isn’t a true Semantic Web, there is some added functionality that Google and other large search engines bring to the table by organizing and creating metadata and indexing within their environments. They make it freely available, with the quid-pro-quo, of course, they can create a huge fast-growing contextual advertising business around that. But, are Google and others of its ilk in a position of creating a de-facto Semantic Web? What’s the relationship of that to companies who might start indexing and creating metadata search-type activities within their SOA or services-data-level activities?

Biske: It’s interesting that you bring that up, because last week David Margulius published on InfoWorld an article titled “Corporate librarian replaced by Web app.” He wound up having a link to one Clay Shirky article that talked about removing the shelves. He was comparing it to a library and the whole Dewey Decimal System and saying that what Google did was to pull all the shelves out. That is to say that there is no one way of organizing it, and it's really focused on the relationships. So, even there, I don’t know that Google’s necessarily created a Semantic Web. They have created a relationship index.

Gardner: An index, yes.

Biske: So, you’re still not going to get that semantic information out of it, but it's probably a far more appropriate way of getting at the information, because, as we know, there are so many different ways of slicing and dicing that it’s a challenge. It comes back to why some of the semantic technologies haven't made advances. The challenge within data federation is that we keep trying to find one universal model, when there isn’t one.

Gardner: Right, but perhaps indexes that have something in common by being equally searchable can create a stepping stone, or a good-enough-as-good-enough approach, to some of these requests and demands.

Biske: Where a Google approach can help, and where Semantic Web comes into play is when we know there's a relationship between these two documents, two things are accessible via URI. We need a standard way of getting metadata about that, beyond just the tags, because we found that while the tagging is a step better, you still have a semantic issue with the tags themselves.

Now, if we add in the metadata that provides additional context about the relationship, what is that going to enable? Now we can start to really make semantic connections between these things and start to leverage that metadata in an automated fashion.

Gardner: What do you think Dave? We're seeing a lot more Google appliances percolating up inside organizations, where they're using essentially the same approaches to organize data inside the Firewall as Google uses across the global Web, and across many other types of content. Is there something here in terms of using these indices to get to the semantic level of benefits?

Linthicum: I think so. I’m just going to add what Todd said. One thing that’s going to happen with the influence of something like Google, which is having a ton of a push in the business right now, is that ultimately these guys are exposing API’s services. They just came out with a streaming API last week, and its actually pretty good. But, at the end of the day, it’s a service that you invoke to get a stream out of it. They're coming to the realization that the developers that leverage these APIs need to have a shared semantic understanding out on the Web. Once that starts to emerge, you're going to see a push down on the enterprise, if that becomes the de-facto standard that Google is driving.

In fact, they may be in a unique position to create the first semantic clearing house for all these APIs and applications that are out there, and they are certainly willing to participate in that, as long as they can get the hits, and, therefore, get the advertising revenue that’s driving the model. But, I think the indices and the ability to catalogue not only content, but services and then information around services -- and not only services, but data and information around data, metadata -- is really the next logical step in that area. There is going to be a big push there in the next few years. I don’t necessarily see it as the 2007 opportunity, but it’s clearly a 2008 opportunity.

Gardner: That’s very interesting, and I don’t think I've seen this declared elsewhere -- Google, being in this unique position, perhaps more than the W3C or Oasis or some of these other organizations, could create some sort of an approach for de-facto industry standardization around indices and then, ultimately, Semantic Web types of activities.

Linthicum: If you think about it, Dana, Google right now is probably the number one provider of services out on the Internet, providing the Google maps, API’s and everything else that’s out there today, and they see this as a strategic direction where they can grow. So, they are in the API business and they are in the services business. When you're in for a penny, you're in for a pound, and you get into that world. So, you start providing access to services, and rudimentary on-demand governance systems to account for the services and test for rogue services, and all those sorts of things. Then you ultimately get into semantics, security, and lots of other different areas they probably didn’t anticipate that they'd get into, but will be pushed into, based on the model they are moving into.

Gardner: I didn’t expect to get into quite this discussion today, but at the Web 2.0 Expo I attended last week in San Francisco, one of the underlying discussions that were seemingly going on everywhere was Google. "They are so big. Are they good; are they bad? What should we make of them?" It was this is sort of an ongoing gnashing of teeth and navel-gazing across many of these communities. In one of my conversations, I said that just because they are big and powerful doesn’t mean that they are bad. Why not give them the benefit of the doubt? Without going too far into the "Google good-Google bad" business, given their very powerful and perhaps auspicious position, how do you guys come down on Google as an SOA enabler?

Kobielus: I agree with Dave. Google potentially plays a very important role in catalyzing the spread of something like a Semantic Web, simply because they are the master indexers of the universe. When you look at the EII products and the vendors that are out there, every single one of their semantic layers, at its very core, has an index. It’s a registry of the data and the metadata that exists out in whatever universe or other environment that that particular vendor’s product is managing.

So, to the extent that Google is the default index that everybody goes to first and foremost, and Google crawls and has indexed and documented every visible piece of content in the universe, I think they sit right dead-center of the heart of the Semantic Web, or will, or somebody like them, somebody who plays that role.

Gardner: So, maybe we should add the new tag line to Google: SOA enabler.

Biske: I agree with those comments as well. If we take this inside the enterprise, and the enterprises deploy the Google appliance, they can go and crawl all of those sources of metadata. The enterprise is trying to take on some form of data governance and come up with their canonical models, and they need to take a bottom-up approach to all of the databases that they have got. Why not throw your Google appliance at it and then start throwing in the keywords that the data-governance committee is actually debating on how to describe the data? You’ll instantly have all the relationships between not just what's in your relational databases, but your unstructured content as well.

They really do play a key role, even indirectly, in the SOA space. One of the recommendations I always make to the companies that I’ve worked with, if they are looking at register repository, is to ask the vendors whether their repository can be indexed by a Google appliance. Ultimately, that’s going be how the developers are going to find the services, and they want to use Google to find it.

Kobielus: Here is the thing. For this grand notion of a Semantic Web to be truly universal, all the many indexes and search engines that are out there need to be federated. Semantic interoperability is a huge problem that I can scarcely put my head around. How is that going to happen?

If you think about it, the analogy is a whole federated identity world that’s been percolating since the start of this decade. You have concepts or standards like SAML, the Liberty Alliance Standards like IDFF, and now SAML 2.0, WS Federation, etc. Those guys have not converged on a common, universal federation environment, in which everybody participates. And, that's just in identity management. Think about federating metadata repositories across the known universe. That should be a tough nut.

Gardner: That’s right, if we take the same approach to data and apply it to ID management. Then, we're talking about the single sign-on and the cloud benefit that many people have been asking for. But, that might be a little of a tangent. Let's try to stick to data. One of the things that occurred to me, when we were describing the virtues of a Google search appliance and Web-based indexing is perhaps Google or others need to come into the market with a gateway appliance that would allow for policy, privilege, and governance. This would allow certain information from inside the organization that has been indexed in an appliance, say from Google, to then be accessed outside. Who is going to be in the best position to manage that gateway of content on a finely-grained basis? Google. So, perhaps Google moves again into the gateway appliance business. Any thoughts?

Linthicum: I don’t think that they have gone that far-far down the road.

Gardner: We should charge them for this. Don’t you think?

Linthicum: I think we are giving free strategies to a multi-billion-dollar organization. I don't know if you saw the release this week from They are in the platform business, so they deliver semantic mediation, app development and integration, and even aspects of SOA on demand now. So, that’s another player in this game, as well, and a much more sophisticated player, when you consider that they give you the coding tools, design tools, the database, and the platform in a virtual operating system. There's going to be a lot of people moving at that platform, and they're building SOAs on that platform and extending them in their enterprise. They could become the platform for semantic mediation as well. That’s their opportunity right now.

Gardner: Not to bash Redmond, but perhaps Microsoft isn’t in a position to move into this federated global approach, and may have missed the boat on this as well. Any thoughts there? No comment? Okay. Never underestimate Microsoft.

Linthicum: I think we are all waiting for checks from Microsoft and they haven’t come yet.

Kobielus: I was thinking that the real platform for semantic mediation are these industry groups that define common data models for those industries. They can form those data models that then are the platforms for semantic interoperability within those environments and within those industries. So, that’s also important. Doesn't OMG under Richard Soley develop, to some degree, those data definitions on a industry-by-industry bases or catalyze their development?

Gardner: I believe they do. They've been aggressive in going into verticals and providing a common consortium-level organizational framework for them to come together and agree on taxonomy, scheme, and terminology.

Kobielus: Because it’s all about taxonomy governance, and governance quite often is industry specific.

Biske: I actually do have a Microsoft comment. The one thing that I will give Microsoft credit for is that of any of the players, they are probably one of the ones most likely to bring metadata into the developer’s world. One of the WS-Star specs that I like a lot, but that you don’t hear too much about, is the WS-Metadata Exchange. Microsoft’s got an implementation of it, and they are strongly trying to leverage that in the advancements they are doing to .NET and Windows Communication Foundation. Because of how developer focused they are, if they continue to push that, they can start to bring some of the Semantic metadata into the developers' context and show them how we can leverage not just in design time but in run time. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with

Gardner: Could this be yet one other area in which Google and Microsoft will perhaps bump into each other?

Biske: I don’t know that we’ll necessarily see that, because Microsoft's strength is in development tools, whereas Google is more in providing their widgets that can be combined on the Web pages and the whole AJAX feel to these things, as well as the underlying search engine. So, they are little bit orthogonal in their approaches.

Gardner: What about the federated indices based on some sort of a Google indexing standardization that would allow for developers to access metadata vis-à-vis these indices, rather than through other means?

Biske: That will be the challenge, if Google actually tries to come up with a standard for accessing them, and Microsoft wants to push one of their own. But I haven’t heard too much on either side about doing that.

Gardner: Now, we are getting in the real crystal-ball action here -- like 3 to 5 years out. Based on some of the discussion around UDDI and registries, maybe these need to be made accessible to crawler activities and appliances for indexing. Joe, you had a blog about IBM dissing UDDI. Can you explain where that came from and what’s going on there?

McKendrick: Sure. Actually, IBM released its Websphere repository and registry product's latest release the other week.

Gardner: About couple of months ago, wasn’t it, and the analysis now has just come out?

McKendrick: Exactly, and Burton Group's Anne Thomas Manes released a report in which she pointed out that there really isn't strong support for UDDI. The product supports UDDI implementations outside of their own registry, but its more of a proprietary solution, kind of a step backwards. IBM was one of the co-creators of UDDI in the first place 8 to 10 years ago, along with Microsoft and Ariba.

It was originally created as kind of an e-commerce yellow pages. There would be this place where you could go to find out about services, and it would link the services across the Web or Internet. Of course, it didn’t really happen. In fact, these companies maintained public UDDI registries, and they shut them down because it just wasn’t getting them traffic and they couldn’t keep them updated. But UDDI found a new life as the internal registries for SOA governance.

In an accompanying article that responded to Anne Thomas Manes' observations, IBM came out and said "Yes. We are not exactly robustly supporting UDDI any longer. We feel that UDDI does not support the vision of SOA as it exists these days." It supported Web services, the interchange idea of Web services, at an earlier era, but SOA is an internal building block function, and UDDI is not robust enough.

Gardner: What do you think IBM is doing here with this, as you call it, step backward? Perhaps they would view it otherwise? What do you think they are trying to do, add more functionality conceptually into what a registry and repository should do and that UDDI just isn’t designed to handle that?

McKendrick: They say that in its current state, the UDDI standard doesn't support the lifecycle aspect of service development. Again, it’s a more than an exchange and communication vehicle, but it does not have that from design-time-to-run-time support that registries should have.

Gardner: I just did some research with IBM, looking into what they are calling their Jazz Framework. Not all of this has been made available, so I have to be a little bit careful. But, this might be that missing link, if you will, between the design time and the run time, where they are creating an Eclipse-like framework that their products, Rational, Tivoli, and WebSphere will plug into very nicely. But, they are also making it open, so that others can do plug-ins and modules and also have some community-based approach to it.

They're trying to do just that, create a lifecycle approach to services, so that developers who collaborate with one another, perhaps across global distances and multiple organizations, can be in a common mentality around the governance and the use of these services. They can relate to operational governance issues fairly early in development. Has anyone else been made aware of Jazz or looked into that at all?

Speakers: No.

Gardner: Okay, we’ll expect that it is going to be announced at the Rational Developers Conference in Orlando in June. There's already some stuff out on the Web that’s trickled out. So, if you do an "IBM Jazz" search, you will find some of this. Stay tuned on that one. It’s an interesting angle that promotes the notion of SOA lifecycle development, services life cycle, and a community and framework approach.

McKendrick: Well, IBM said that the vendors should go ahead and start working on a new replacement or a new generation of registry, and maybe this is what they are talking about.

Biske: It's unfortunate that the IBM article really was very lacking in specifics. They said UDDI didn’t cut it, but they didn’t give any details on where it didn’t cut it or what advanced features their customers were asking for and needed. It doesn’t surprise me that there are some ramblings around this. One of the things that I have called out a couple of times my blog is whether we're willing to see convergence around all these metadata repository spaces.

I usually point to configuration management databases versus the UDDI and registry repository space. Clearly, it's not a great leap to get into the policy management space, which now hits the heart of governance and the topics around SOA registry repositories. So, there are some clear ties there. If each one of these systems has its own unique way of representing the metadata, as well as accessing the metadata, then perhaps IBM is right that we do need more work on the standardization front to figure out what is the best way for just accessing this universe of metadata, whether its policies for the run-time infrastructure, additional semantic information for design time, or both.

Gardner: Let’s move on to one other subject that just occurred to me, even though I didn’t put it in our lineup early in the show. We had the announcement that Adobe is going to open-source Flex Rich Internet Application (RIA) approach. Any thoughts about that in terms of "Does Adobe have a chance of establishing more of a de-facto industry standard for RIAs as a result of Flex being open source?"

Linthicum: I think that’s a response from Laszlo and a bunch of other folks in the AJAX world who are just counting their toolsets, and they're big enough to buy their way into the market. That's exactly what they're doing.

Gardner: When you say "buy their way into the market," by having an established product and making it open source. Is that what you mean?

Linthicum: Yeah, open source, discounted, and therefore making it much more attractive. They add some value, but in many instances, it's just becoming a gimmick to sell software, and this may be an instance of that.

Gardner: But, even as a gimmick, given their presence and the pretty powerful capabilities of Flex this could give them a big advantage in the market.

Linthicum: Absolutely. I have a lot of experience with Flex, as I built Bridgeworks, a company I was CEO of a year ago, around Flex, and it’s a very good tool, and it does a very good job. I think that they are trying to get it out into the development community to get away from the whole Flash Internet content, Internet sex appeal delivery industry they’re in right now and move into the app development industry. That’s a great way to do it, because people say, "Open source? Okay. I'm going to give it a shot."

Gardner: I had a little fun in my blog with this announcement, saying, "Well, why don’t they do it with Flash as well, if they think so highly of open source?" But, I haven’t heard a response. What do you think? Is that something that makes sense to you -- to have Flash on the entertainment side of this become, at least potentially, some kind of de-facto standard? Could open source help them achieve that, particularly in light of what Microsoft announced with it’s Silverlight capability?

Linthicum: That’s a tough leap for them, because ultimately that’s their bread and butter. They own a lot of that market, and they do so with a very well-thought-of product. They are probably not looking to do anything different, because that’s going so well. The Flex market is completely different. You've got a lot of these folks entering that market with some very nice technology, and I think Adobe is just responding to that competitiveness, versus owning the market. They have to compete in the market, and that’s the way they are going to sell their product. I think it’s a smart move for them.

Gardner: I've heard, and I don’t know if this is substantiated, that there were fewer than 10,000 active Flex developers. So, that must have been a concern to Adobe, but they might be able to create a catalyst to adoption now.

Kobielus: I'm sure that’s their hope, that Flex can catch fire with the development community by being freely available everywhere. That’s the same gamble that Red Hat took with MetaMatrix, when they open sourced that, but it doesn’t mean that they are going to succeed. There are lots of alternatives to MetaMatrix in the EII space, and I am sure that there will more of that coming along. So, it’s definitely a gamble for Adobe to give it away.

Gardner: One more comment from me on the Red Hat thing is that I think this forces IBM's hand a little bit on the EII stuff. Open source can be very powerful in that regard. There are so many instances where modules, connectors, community involvement, and then sharing of those connectors and modules could be very advantageous, especially where you are trying to bring as much data and content into a common view as possible. So, Red Hat is perhaps thumbing its nose at IBM, saying, "Well, now what’s your response?"

Kobielus: That’s right. They're also thumbing their nose at BEA, which has had an EII capability with the AquaLogic platform for a while now and hasn’t really got much traction with it.

Gardner: Last subject, and we've only got a few minutes Dave Linthicum, you quoted a Gartner study in one of your recent blogs. There was a Gartner symposium just this last week in San Francisco -- good news, bad news, and SOA. Can you just tell us quickly what was the take away on that?

Linthicum: The take away on that are things I've been seeing for quite some time. People are actually getting into the project-level of SOA now. I am seeing that happen a lot. I am sure MomentumSI and other folks in the service-delivery area doing that, and they're finding out that it’s hard. It’s tough to do, and it’s a systemic change in the way they think about architecture. There’s a bit of a hangover from the hype that occurred in the last few years. So, people are having a bit of a negative take-back on that. I feel like I'm the designated buzz-kill running around the country, working with my clients, introducing them to the fact this is not something that can be taken lightly. You can’t bolt it on. SOA is something you do, not something you buy.

So that’s the bad news. The good news that Gartner found out is that the concepts are working. People are successful with the technology, and I'm seeing that in my practice as well. It’s a valuable thing, and they can make a lot of money in terms of expense savings and the strategic advantage of agility that goes right to the bottom line.

So it’s a good concept. Conceptually it’s working, people are proving it out in the market. It’s just a bit different from the way in which the vendor hype has been describing it over the last couple of years. It’s more of an evolution of hard things that need to be done. You can’t buy stuff out there. You can't buy SOA.

Gardner: I should also point out that Dave is not just the CEO of the Linthicum Group but he also writes the Real World SOA blog for InfoWorld. He is the host of the SOA Report podcast, and is also a long term SAS blogger for Intelligent Enterprise. So, thank you also. Jim Kobielus, you are a blogger too, what’s your blog address? How do people find your blog?


Gardner: Can you come up with a brand for that it’s a bit long isn’t it? How about “Jim Says” just "Jim Says?" And, Todd Biske you’re a blogger, tell us about your blog, where is it located?

Biske: I actually started my blog before I joined Momentum so it’s under my personal domain. It’s

Gardner: Well, thank you. This has been an interesting discussion. I appreciate all of your thoughts and inputs.

This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. I want to thank Joe McKendrick, Jim Kobielus, Dave Linthicum and Todd Biske for joining in yet another BriefingsDirect SOA Insights edition podcast. Thanks all for listening.

Listen to the podcast here. Produced as a courtesy of Interarbor Solutions: analysis, consulting and rich new-media content production. 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 Interarbor Solutions at 603-528-2435.

Transcript of Dana Gardner’s BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition, Vol. 17. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2007. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Analysts on the SOA Consortium's Formation and Goals with OMG CEO Richard Soley

Edited transcript of weekly BriefingsDirect[TM/SM] SOA Insights Edition, recorded March 9, 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 Interarbor Solutions at 603-528-2435.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the latest BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition, Vol. 14. This is a weekly discussion and dissection of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) related news and events with the panel of industry analysts and guests. I am your host and moderator, Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, ZDNet software strategies blogger and Redmond Developer News Magazine 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 to the show again, Steve.

Steve Garone: Hi, Dana. Great to be here.

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

Joe McKendrick: Good morning, Dana.

Gardner: Also, we have Tony Baer. He is a principal at onStrategies, and blogger at and ebizQ. Thanks for joining, Tony.

Tony Baer: Hi, Dana.

Gardner: Also joining us, Jim Kobielus. Jim is a principal analyst at Current Analysis. Welcome again to the show.

Jim Kobielus: Hi, everybody.

Gardner: Our guest this week is Dr. Richard Soley, the chairman and CEO of the Object Management Group (OMG). Welcome back to the show, Richard.

Richard Soley: Well, thanks for the invitation. I am happy to be here.

Gardner: We're going to be digging into a few items this week, principally to discuss the new SOA Consortium. We are going to learn more about what's going on with that. It’s an interesting approach, combining end-user organizations and enterprises along with vendors to promote adoption and, I suppose, further definition of the scope of SOA.

We’ll also be discussing some of the events at EclipseCon, wrapping up for the week of March 5, 2007.

Gardner: First for those of our listeners who are not familiar with the greater details of OMG, why don’t you give us the elevator pitch, Richard, on OMG, its mission, and where it’s headed?

Soley: Sure, the Object Management Group is an 18-year-old consortium of software users and vendors, academics, and a growing number of government institutions focused on delivering standards to make interoperability and portability a reality. We were founded in 1989 focused on object technology, later grew into distributed object technology, and were best known for the first few years for our Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA).

In 1997, we moved in two new directions; one being the adoption of a unified modeling language with the clever name, Unified Modeling Language (UML), and also into vertical markets -- originally healthcare, finance, telecommunications, and manufacturing, although we are now in about 25 different markets, everything from robotics to regulatory compliance.

In 2000, we actually leveraged that modeling technology and made it the base technology for all of the efforts that we have under way. So, we defined business models and software models, and, in some cases, even hardware models and process models.

The next big leap came in 2005, when we merged with Business Process Management Initiative (, so that now all of the modeling languages from meta modeling languages like Meta-Object Facility (MOF), to business modeling languages like Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), to software modeling languages like UML, and systems engineering languages like SysML are all in one place. That’s been our focus, but looked at from another dimension, what my staff is really good at is getting competitors to agree on things.

We have been doing that at OMG for 18 years with, at this time, between 500 and 600 member companies. We were approached by a group of 11 companies to create a community around SOA, an advocacy group, not a standards group, which is why it’s separate from OMG. We strongly believe that SOA isn’t a technology at all, but rather an approach to achieve business agility. It’s not a technology, but rather a business strategy.

Gardner: Well, it certainly seems to fit in well with the heritage and the direction that OMG has taken. This is really an industry development that’s ready-made for many of the values that you bring to the table.

Soley: I appreciate that and I think that’s fair. But it’s important to understand that this is not a standards organization. There are plenty of organizations focused on SOA standards and, in fact, OMG is one of them. Let’s get this straight upfront -- we are going to pronounce it SOA (So-wah) from now on, because, otherwise you can’t say, "SOA what?"

Our SOA group at OMG has been focused on modeling SOA, modeling for software assurance, and modeling for software producibility, and so forth. At the other end of the spectrum, you have organizations like W3C and OASIS that are doing a great job designing the protocols and languages at the pipe level -- how do we connect the systems together?

That hasn’t been our primary focus in over a decade, so we are not in that space, but the advocacy group is exactly that. It’s an advocacy group. How do we help the CIO? And, we call this "Corner Office SOA." How do we help the CIO get the news across to the rest of the C-suite that this is not a technology but a business strategy, and a business strategy that can deliver agility and a better bottom line?

Second, "Ground Floor SOA." How do we help the enterprise architect, the domain architect, the data architect get the word across to his alter ego in the line of business that this is a business strategy and not a technology and it’s something he needs to pay attention to?

Gardner: Back on Feb. 12, the SOA Consortium announced its formation of this advocacy group, and it’s quite a nice mix of organizations. You’ve got such enterprises as Avis, Bank of America, CellExchange, WebEx -- I suppose WebEx [now part of Cisco] is a vendor, but probably could be both -- and then we’ve also got some very large influential vendors, BEA, Cisco, IBM, SAP and HP.

Tell us a little bit about what the goal of this organization is -- combining, I guess, the constituencies of the end-user issues and vendor issues. You’ve had some of these closed-door summits over the last several weeks to come up with a charter. Tell us what you can about what took place at these events and what is shaping up as the charter, given you’re straddling the fence between the user and vendor organizations.

Soley: It’s important first of all to note the mix of users and vendors. We are currently running 3-to-1 end-users to vendors, and that’s because the focus is on this advocacy activity. It’s not on whose SOA infrastructure we should buy and "Our Web service is cool," or any of those questions. I am guessing that we are actually going to be more like 5-to-1 or 10-to-1 end-users to vendors eventually, but, as you can see, on Feb. 12 four vendors stepped up to the plate to fund it and get it off the ground. They were BEA, Cisco, IBM, and SAP. As an old consortium hand, I listed those in alphabetical order.

You also saw, as you said, some very dedicated end-users who have ideas about how to get the idea across to the lines of business that this is not a technology play, but a business agility play. Some you didn’t mention, for example Wells Fargo, and, of course, Object Management Group ourselves are a member, as well as the Integration Consortium. So, that’s another differentiator from OMG, which is about half end-users and half vendors. We expect that the SOA Consortium is going to weighted toward end-users, although there will be a couple of sponsors joining.

Gardner: So, with this predominance of users, what do they say? What do they want your organization do for them?

Soley: Number one, they want to be truly vendor neutral. Over the last two years, there have been various alliances of vendors saying, "We have created this" – their usual common phrase is -- "SOA alliance to help our customers understand the products in the SOA space." That’s wonderful. That’s all well and good. That’s how the industry works.

But you notice that there are always one or two vendors and one or two of their top customers. This is four major vendor-sponsors, a couple of more that are participating and might be sponsors later, and a lot more end-users, because what they are looking for is understanding the business strategy, not trying to decide which product to buy to "SOAfy" their infrastructure. That’s a very important differentiator.

They are not building reference models. They are sharing case studies. For example, our enterprise architects and our community of practice is showing case studies of success stories and, more importantly, failure stories, best practices, what works, what doesn’t work? We have even had sessions on how to influence project managers and product managers in the line of business to understand business strategies in general, rather than think of us as “the guy who fixes my Treo.”

We received a lot of feedback from CIOs and CTOs during the [early] summits that said this is very important. We had a Fortune 100 CIO who came into the New York summit. This person is CIO of a multi-billion dollar travel organization, and the opening gambit that we heard was, “Look, this is just a technology play, and if one of my technology guys hadn’t told me I had to be here, I wouldn’t be here. I’ve already told the CEO that SOA is a technical thing, and we’ll take care of it.”

At the end of the summit, this particular CIO stayed an extra half hour and said, “The most important thing I learned is that I can now understand how I can position this as -- rather than a technology play -- a business agility play. That will support the efforts that I am making to make our business processes understood, to write them down in a way that’s reusable and discoverable, and in a way that I can make them more efficient. And, I am going to go back to the CEO and say it’s not a technology play.”

[Editor's note: More news has come from the SOA Consortium since this podcast recording.]

Gardner: Well, this gentleman obviously had not been listening to our podcast series. Let’s go to the panel.

Steve Garone, we’ve talked about advocacy and evangelism, and the intersection of the business and technology values around it for quite sometime now, and we’ve mentioned that politics is an important aspect of this cultural shift. Do you think an advocacy group like this is a good thing for the politics, in terms of getting people on the same page? And, what would you pose as some of the necessary ingredients for success for an activity like this?

Garone: It’s a great question, Dana. First of all, Richard, that sounded like a great case study, and certainly makes the case that this group is going in the right direction. The issues that seem to surface come from two directions. One, and I know, Richard, from some of the information I’ve seen in this alliance, that you guys have considered this, is that many organizations that have gone through some SOA activities up to this point. These have focused primarily, and in some cases exclusively, on cost saving and not business agility. Getting that message across I think is a very important issue, in terms of getting acceleration around SOA adoption.

Obviously, it's very important to convince the higher-ups within an organization that this is something that they can benefit from, from a business standpoint. One of the key issues also is that there tends to be sort of a push-pull, or a lack of communication and understanding, between the business functions within an organization, and that, from the line of business standpoint, can certainly benefit business agility and the IT folks. Of course, there's been a lot of activity around tools, standards, and technologies to help bridge that gap, but I think it’s still a pretty important issue. So, those are the major areas that I would look at, and it sounds like you guys are addressing them to some extent.

Soley: The first is a very important issue for us, and second is a really tough one to get past. IT has traditionally focused in most organizations on what are the right tools to achieve what lines of business are telling us we need to achieve. Sure, there are going to be tools and there are going to be technologies and there are going to be frameworks to help you implement the SOA strategy, but it’s the other way around. It’s "What is it we need to achieve?" And, what we need to achieve is fairly easy to explain, right? What we need to achieve is capturing business processes, so that we can find them, so that we can make them more efficient, and so that we can reuse them -- and this is nothing new.

What’s new here is the message that we are not just talking about workflow. We are not just talking about processes that can be automated. We are talking about any of the processes, especially customer-facing, but any value-chain processes within the organization that we might want to reuse.

Gardner: I'd like to encourage any of the analysts to kick in with their questions. I'd just like to start off with a quick one. Richard, one of the things we come up against a lot, when we talk to our guests and we examine some of the events that are unfolding, is complexity.

People are baffled in that there’s just so much, and the more you dig down, it seems daunting. It seems difficult to manage things horizontally, and therefore you relegate it to projects and pilot types of affairs. Is there anything that you expect to be doing through an advocacy role, inasmuch as you understand and are participating in this, that can deal with helping people manage the complexity issues for SOA?

Soley: You know, that’s a great point. I would like to answer in two different dimensions. First, as you can see, we are making top-down advocacy the core of what we do. If you start with your developers and try to work your way up, you are not going to change the way that company thinks about business process, and you are not going to have an effect on business agility. So, that’s why we're having the CIO Summits. And we will be continuing to do those.

Starting in June we are planning on doing them quarterly with a small number of CIOs and CTOs, government agencies, large corporations, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). We actually had an NGO participate in our San Francisco event. We'll use those events not only to make sure we stay on track, but also to get the word out about what we are trying to do here, which is a top-down focus on business process and business agility.

By the way, that’s working. The participants at the events we had were very enthusiastic about the consortium. There was active participation throughout the sessions. In fact there was so much interaction that the round table discussion, which was supposed to be after the presentation, was embedded within SOA Consortium presentation at every stop. So, that’s one, and I’ve lost the thread for the second. I should have written it down.

Gardner: That it was kind of complex.

Soley: Yes, there is complexity involved in capturing the business processes in a way that makes them reusable and discoverable and to make them more efficient, but you always are going to have that complexity, and the question is, "Where is the complexity best spent? Is it best spent upfront, so that I’ve got a description of the process that I can reuse, find, and make more efficient, or is it best spent by the people trying to implement the process, looking at an ambiguous description of a process, in, at best English, and trying to figure out every single time, what in the world it means?"

I would rather do that once, capture it upfront in a rigorous fashion, rigorous both from the standpoint of how it’s captured a formal language, but also the way that it’s captured, having the methodology in place -- spend that extra money upfront and have the savings every time the process is carried out and reused.

Gardner: Anyone else out there have some questions for Richard?

Kobielus: There’s definitely a value for an advocacy organization like this to spread best practices regarding SOA and SOA deployment and management. You mentioned that one of the functions of these – for lack of better term, dog and pony shows -- meetings in various cities is for the CIOs to share both the success stories and the failure stories regarding SOA deployment. How eager are CIOs to share their failures and their screw ups in implementing SOA?

Soley: You saw how carefully I didn’t mention even the gender of the CIO who made that comment in New York. I will admit there was one time we had to turn off the tape recorder, which we were using just to have notes so we can get the quotes right later on. They are willing to share. We find this at the level of CIOs and CTOs, as well as at the level of enterprise architects. They are willing to share failure studies, if they have the safety and security of knowing they are not going to be quoted, it’s not going to be on their performance reviews, and they know that others in the room are going to do the same.

Listening to one of these stories, actually it was in San Francisco, gave me an instant flash to my kids high school in Lexington, Mass. It blew me away the first time I saw this. There's an enormous board in one of the major cafeterias. It’s labeled "The Board of Rejection," and all the kids post their rejection letters up there, and I thought, "My God. I never could have done that 30 years ago, when I was graduating high school."

But kids write notes on them and say, "They don’t know what they missed," and "You’ll get accepted somewhere else." And, they really help each other out. I think they all understand that failure stories are just as important as success stories. In fact, more important, because it’s very difficult to justify cost savings. It’s far easier to justify increased revenue. So, they do it and I will admit that the enterprise architect level folks do it more readily.

Kobielus: Which leads me to another question, I am looking at the initial membership of the SOA Consortium and I don’t see any consultants or a professional services firms.

Soley: Yes, systems integrators (SIs).

Kobielus: Those are the folks who see the broadest range of SOA implementations, successes and failures and they themselves quite often are a key component of those successes and failures. Why don’t you have the SIs involved in the consortium?

Soley: That’s a great question. In the three weeks since we’ve been live; you are only the second person to think of that. So, well done. In fact, amazingly, the entire idea for these summits was from one of the big four, a very active person who has been participating in all of the meetings. Unfortunately, their entire management restructured the day the membership agreement was supposed to be signed. So, we are talking to all of them obviously, and, in fact, unsurprisingly, IBM is participating from two different parts of the house, and one of them being, whatever IBM Global Services is called -- today is Friday, so it must have a new name.

I expect to be able to make an announcement about another major one in the next couple of weeks. We are talking to all of them. Come along to a meeting. Maybe you will see the one that I am talking about, but I really shouldn’t mention them until they can get their own processes back in order and get involved. It was really depressing to have this gentleman come to all the meetings, actually lay out the entire structure, idea, and plan for the CIO Summits and then not be able to participate in them.

Kobielus: I'll bet it was frustrating.

Soley: It was very extremely frustrating for me and I think intensely frustrating for him.

Gardner: Seeing these individuals participating in the sharing back and forth of stories, methodologies, and lessons learned, sounds a little bit conceptually like an open-source project. I didn’t see in the initial release any mention of some of these SOA open-source projects involved, whether it’s SOA Tools Project within Eclipse, or Tuscany within Apache, or some of the success in the field, such as ServiceMix. Is there a role for open-source projects within this consortium?

Soley: I'm going to go out on a limb here. Didn’t I say SOA is not a technology? When I hear "SOA tool," or "SOA development tool," or "SOA testing tool," I have to wrap my mind around that, because SOA is not a technology. It’s a business strategy.

So, I think what you really mean is "tools for implementing processes that are defined using the SOA approach." These are tools for testing implementations of processes that are defined using a SOA approach. If what we're talking about is business strategy, then software is an implementation technology. It’s not the strategy, right?

Gardner: Well, they still have a relationship?

Soley: Yes. So, let’s look at any of those. Commercial products, by the way, are no different. They implement processes that are defined by a methodology that’s part of your SOA strategy, or maybe they help you implement the methodology itself. There are tools to do that as well, and some of those are going to be open source and some are going to be commercial. There is definitely room for participation, and these vendors that have put money into the creation of the SOA Consortium obviously want to sell products and services. The good news, however, from the point of view of the end-users is that the purpose of the organization is not to help them decide what product to buy.

I will tell you, sitting around the table, enterprise architects share experiences of which products have worked for them and which haven’t, and I have seen marketing reps from our vendor participants scribbling down notes, because they want to sell more product -- and more power to them. I'm a capitalist. But whether it’s open source or commercial, software is an enabler, software is an implementation technology, but it’s not a business strategy.

Garone: I wanted to follow up on Dana’s question, because I was thinking in the background as you were talking about what the Consortium is actually doing and who is participating. Given its charter, what's in it for the vendors and how they are participating, if, in fact, this is not about generating standards that all the vendors can leverage, and it’s not about selling product, which of course it shouldn’t be and it isn’t?

I am sure that they get value out of being there, out of being in front of CIO’s and other end-users, out of taking notes, as you said, learning where their products are selling and where they aren’t. But I'm interested in the mechanics of how they participate, what they bring to the table, and how they interact with the CIOs in a way that brings them benefit?

Soley: First of all, I should mention that at the summits none of the vendors were allowed. In fact, none of the members were allowed. They were run as focus groups, because we wanted the CIO-level executives to be able to talk completely openly about their case studies, their success stories and failure studies as well. And, we wanted their honest feedback on the organization. So, no one else was in the room, except for the executives that were able to come and two OMG staffers, including me and Brenda Michelson from Elemental Links, who is the consultant who put together the vision-mission strategy goals and tactics document. She then presented that to these executives and then ran focus groups to get results and is now finalizing those documents, which we call the core documents about the organization.

The vendors have been in the room at all the other meetings, of course, and they have their own SOA strategies to implement and their own business processes that interest them, but there’s money coming from marketing departments and they want to get out in front of these users and say, "Look. We are leaders in this field, we understand how to implement an SOA, we have tools to help you with the implementation of your architecture, and we have run-time executables to manage the implementation."

Those go from anything such business-process description languages as BPMN to capture business processes, SOA governance product for keeping track of what processes you have, and making sure they follow the corporate rules and implementation of technologies.

It's no surprise that IBM mentions WebSphere, and that BEA mentions WebLogic and AquaLogic, and so forth. The group from Cisco, for example, the AON group, is all about capturing SOA and implementing it on your network. The group from SAP is changing completely the way that they implement their own products and integrate them with the other products they find in their customers, to be able to say to their customer base, "Look, we are leaders in SOA and one of the proof points is that we took sponsorship positions in the consortium."

Gardner: You know, Richard, one of the problems that we have encountered in the field around SOA is that it’s hard to measure success. There are long-term and soft-types of implications, and I suppose that the same could be said for something like this consortium. How do you measure the success of what you’re doing and have you put any milestones out there for what you'd like to attain?

Soley: That's an extremely good point, and actually one that came up at every single one of the executive summit events. We worked on that for a long time and came up with the loosey-goosey measure of self‑identification.

So, the overall goal, which you see on our Website, is 75 percent of the global 1,000 self identify SOA successes by 2010. There is an asterisk that mentions that we are also talking 50 percent of medium‑sized businesses and 50 percent of major government agencies. Because we couldn’t pull some measure of success off the shelf, we went with self identification, and at every single one of the summits we were told, "No, you are going to have to try harder. You’re going to have to deliver some metrics of success."

I don’t have any for you today, but I can tell you that that is something that we got very clear direction on from the CIOs and CTOs who participated in the summits. Also, they wanted us to look specifically, for example, at connections between SOA and Lean, Six Sigma, and ITIL best practices, all of which have metrics of maturity and success.

Gardner: Any other questions?

Kobielus: I think the industry is looking at the SOA Consortium or OMG to be a third-party certifier -- maybe that’s overstating your mission -- of enterprises' success or lack thereof in implementing SOA. So, it’s the extent to which you are going to be mapping these SOA best practices back to such recognized frameworks as ITIL, Six Sigma, and so forth that would be essentially what the industry is looking for you guys to do -- to catalyze that kind of mapping.

Soley: Yes, that’s a very good point, and, Dana, I thought you said that I wasn’t going to be get any hard questions.

Gardner: Sorry.

Soley: The SOA Consortium is looking to not only OMG, but other standards consortia, to deliver standards, mappings, and validation endorsement certifications where appropriate. In fact, it’s in the mission statement that the SOA Consortium is not a standards organization, but it will deliver requirements to standards organizations and where we were talking about modeling things, those requirements would be handed to OMG.

One of the 10 largest banks in the world sent an executive to one of our meetings, and this person said, that all they care about in terms of metrics of success are Lean and Six Sigma, so we're going to need to connect SOA to that world in order to be successful at that bank. I think that’s part of it, but there’s more than that. There are going to be metrics that are not yet in the stack when you fly through the ITIL, Six Sigma and Lean documents.

OMG, as it happens is moving into the direction of maturity models anyway. We are just starting work on a business-process maturity model. You may have read about it. It’s not a standard yet, but it was just starting. What were talking about is a maturity model for business process adoption that measures organizations and their ability to capture business processes. That’s very strongly related to SOA, but again, that’s a standard and belongs in OMG and not in the SOA Consortium.

Kobielus: One last question. Are you developing a maturity model for master data management (MDM)?

Soley: First of all, the SOA Consortium wouldn’t be delivering any maturity models at all. OMG has never delivered maturity models before, although we’ve expanded many times over our history, which is frankly why I am still there. This is a new area for us. We have to learn not only how to deliver the standard that specifies business process maturity, but how to deliver that, which means how to certify people, so that they can certify organizations at the five different maturity model levels that we are contemplating. So, no, we have never delivered any other maturity models and although there are lots on the books as potentials, let’s wait for 2008 to see what develops.

McKendrick: You talk about the SOA Consortium, and there’s a lot of discussion about business process management (BPM) and SOA. Obviously, these two areas need to converge as we go forward. As I have heard and seen, though, over the years, especially in recent years, that the BPM professionals and the IT or the SOA professionals tend to be in two different camps and kind of follow their own separate sets of disciplines. It would seem a challenge from the perspective of the SOA Consortium in bringing these two camps together. Do you see that as a challenge?

Soley: You bet, but that’s one of the results that we learned during the events. We are very worried about that. Obviously, I strongly believe that BPM -- and now I am not talking about technology, just managing business processes -- is a key part of the SOA business agility message. I also believe that BPM technology, like our own BPMN standard, implemented by 40 some vendors, is a great way to capture business processes. But, we have been worried since day one that you’ve got your business process owners, your Six Sigma experts, and business process offices in companies, and they seem to be different from the IT definition of BPM.

One of the things that we heard in every event from all the participants is that the CIO and CTO participants did not artificially separate SOA and BPM by the underlying technology. They see business processes and services tied to a cohesive enterprise architecture foundation as a major message of SOA. That message has been received at the high level, and what we have to do is help the C-suite, get the message down into the lines of business and down into the IT organization, that a business process viewed as a methodology by business process improvement office and business process viewed as a business process notation in the IT departments are the same thing, and they ought to be working together more closely.

Gardner: Great. Well, thank you, Richard. Obviously, there are so many constituencies involved inside of organizations, and then also involving their communities, and there are vendors that are herding the cats, as it were, toward SOA as a worthwhile, important, and difficult activity.

Soley: Yeah, no problem, though. These are cool cats.

Gardner: I wish you well. Moving on to our second subject, I just came back from EclipseCon in Santa Clara, Calif. [in March] and there were few announcements there I would like to go over quickly. Tony, you wrote about the Oracle move with its Java Persistence API. Tell us very quickly about that.

Baer: Well, it’s been an interesting strategy, because the fact is that Eclipse was initially known for IDEs, and Oracle with JDeveloper is one of the few major Java players, outside of Sun, who is not migrating its IDE to Eclipse.

In the past year or so, Oracle has been involved in a number of Eclipse projects. I think putting its feet in the water. What’s interesting is that they are now ramping up to board level by saying, "No, we are not going to IDE. We are going to instead work on Java persistence and essentially they are trying to coalesce it around top tier, which is their implementation of the Java Persistence API.

It’s actually the update of what is essentially about a 10-year-old product, and what the interesting thing is not so much what Oracle is doing, but it’s more reflection of Eclipse saying, "We’re more than about IDEs."

Gardner: This is runtime material, right?

Baer: Exactly, and that begs the question that I have asked the Eclipse folks as well. If you’re not just IDEs, which is what we’ve associated you with, what are you? What is your mission, and where do you draw the bounds on it? Their answer to that was, "Well, we didn’t initially form ourselves to develop an IDE. It was the idea of trying to be a proof of concept to show that you can have an extensible framework to this plug-in model."

Gardner: Around OSGi?

Baer: Well, OSGi came later. They initially tried their own plug-in model and realized, "Why are we re-inventing wheel?" OSGi just happens to work. The whole rest of the field just discovered OSGi, kind of by chance, in the same way that all the AJAX folks discovered you can use Java Script, XML and a whole bunch of other stuff together and get rich clients on the Web.

That was not the original intent of OSGi. It was supposed to be basically a home box, which would essentially Java-enable your toaster or refrigerator, and we can see how far that’s gone. But, what we have found is that it’s actually a very effective, hot-swappable component model. So, that’s what Eclipse has really capitalized on, and they are seeing that as being some of their proofs of concept to say, "Now, let’s see how far we can take this."

Gardner: I had two take-a-ways, one was that this seems like mission creep for Eclipse, that they are getting more into runtime, and not just on the client with their rich-client platform, but now, increasingly on the server. The second thing was this. Oracle, as a major vendor is going to be driving a lot of the innovation around this project. The proposed project under Eclipse has moved the project in the sense out of GlassFish and around the Java community, and they will keep it as a Java reference implementation. But the innovation will be happening at Eclipse. And then any of the changes will only then move downstream into Java.

So, my take-a-way was: one, mission creep for Eclipse into runtime, but secondarily some diminishment of the role of the Java environment for innovation. Anybody have reaction to that?

Kobielus: Actually before everybody else jumps in, I just want to top that. You have mission-creep for Eclipse, and it sounds like you could also say "mission accomplished" for IBM, because I think one of the original goals in getting Eclipse going was to essentially move the center of gravity in the Java world away from Sun.

Gardner: That seems to be happening, doesn’t it? Richard, what do you think of that?

Soley: This goes back to the conversation we were informally having at the beginning of the call, about mission creep and expansion of Eclipse goals, and where the organization goes. I think there’s sufficient demand in all of these areas, that some organization has got to get their arms around it and deliver. As long as that delivery happens, I think it’s the right thing for the user base.

Gardner: I'm not sure I understand.

Soley: Whether it’s commercial or open source -- and you hear me say "whether it’s commercial or open source" a lot -- you need product that delivers against a user requirement. My response in this was something I was saying earlier to Tony’s note this morning about results of EclipseCon is that expansion of mission is perfectly fine as long as you continue to deliver on each of the elements of that mission.

Gardner: Well, one thing I can tell you as an observation is that this is a very energetic environment. A lot of developers that had the feel of what Java 1.0 was about seven or eight years ago, and many, many vendors that I speak to, recognize that the Eclipse community is a force to go with and not to ignore. Many of them are creating plug-ins -- be they commercial or open source -- in order to ride the marketing machine that the Eclipse involvement has become. So, this is something that’s got a lot of momentum, and at a time, as I think Tony pointed, out that Java is losing momentum?

Soley: You can’t have both of those at the same time, right? A big message of Eclipse is the Java message. Eclipse supports other programming languages as well, but the success of Eclipse is the continued success of Java. So, let’s be fair.

Kobielus: One thing we have to distinguish is Java versus the Java community process. I think that’s really what they’ve meant.

Soley: Okay, fair enough.

Gardner: Where did the innovation take place? Is that kind of the point?

Soley: The open-source model has proven to be a very successful one in the Java community.

Gardner: Well thank you everyone for joining, we’ve had an interesting discussion, and again I want to wish the SOA Consortium well, and OMG as a participant in that. I guess you’re taking a leadership role in this Consortium. Is that fair?

Soley: I am the executive director of the consortium, yes.

Gardner: Well, thanks everyone. We’ve been talking again about SOA, your SOA Insights Edition, Volume 14; our guest has been Dr. Richard Soley, chairman and CEO of OMG. Thanks for coming, Richard.

Soley: No, thank you for arranging. It was a pleasure, Dana.

Gardner: Also joining have been Steve Garone, Joe McKendrick, Tony Baer, Jim Kobielus -- thanks everyone for joining. I am your host and moderator, Dana Gardner. Thanks for listening.

Listen to the podcast here. 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 Interarbor Solutions at 603-528-2435.

Transcript of Dana Gardner’s BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition, Vol. 14. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2007. All rights reserved.