Showing posts with label agility. Show all posts
Showing posts with label agility. Show all posts

Monday, October 08, 2012

Banking Services Provider BancVue Leverages VMware Server Virtualization to Generate Private-Cloud Benefits and Increased Business Agility

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast from the 2012 VMworld Conference on how one company has been able to provide business agility to its customers.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: VMware.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special BriefingsDirect podcast series coming to you from the 2012 VMworld Conference in San Francisco.

We're here the week of August 27 to explore the latest in cloud computing and software-defined datacenter infrastructure developments. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions and I'll be your host throughout this series of VMware sponsored BriefingsDirect discussions.

Our next user case study examines how server virtualization success can quickly set the stage for private-cloud benefits. We'll hear the powerful story of how banking services provider, BancVue, has been able to provide business agility to its community bank customers, enabling them to better compete against the mega banks on such critical areas as customer service and end-user portal.

Here to share their story on creating the services that empower customers to beat the giants in their field by better leveraging agile IT is Sunny Nair, Vice President of IT and Systems Operations at BancVue in Austin, Texas.

Welcome to BriefingsDirect, Sunny.

Sunny Nair: Thank you.

Gardner: I'm looking at this sort of at the big picture right now. Many companies these days need to tackle the dual task of cutting costs, while also increasing agility and providing better services and response times to their constituents.

At a high level, Sunny, you've been doing this for some time. Tell me if you have a philosophy or a vision for how you can accomplish both, that is to say manage your total cost and increase and improve the services delivery?

Nair: The first thing we wanted to do was to abstract the applications and the operating system from the hardware so that a hardware failure wouldn’t bring down our systems. For that, of course, we went to virtualization. We experimented with various virtualization products. Out of those trials, vSphere was the best software for a heterogeneous environment like ours, where we had Windows and different flavors of Linux.

So we stuck with VMware, and that helped us abstract the hardware layer and our software layer, so we can move our operating systems and our virtual servers to different pieces of hardware, when there was a hardware issue on one server, enabling us to be more agile.

Gardner: How about cost? Did that not only help you support your heterogeneity requirements, but were you able to consolidate, unify, and reduce some of those hardware costs along the way?

Nair: Oh yes, because instead of running just one server on one piece of hardware, we were able to run anywhere between 12 and 20 different servers. All servers weren’t utilized at 100 percent all the time. We were able to leverage the CPU to its full capacity and run many more servers. So we had, at a minimum, a 12x increase in our server capacity on each piece of hardware. That definitely did help our costs.

Gardner: That’s pretty impressive. Before we go any further on your technology benefits, perhaps you could tell us a little bit about BancVue, the type of organization you are, and what some of your business goals are?

Marketing expertise

Nair: BancVue is a financial services software and marketing company. We help community financial institutions compete with mega banks by providing them marketing expertise, software expertise, and data consultation expertise, and all those things require technology and software.

Gardner: Do you supply services to them? That is to say, are they using your applications or services as part of their own ecosystem type of approach?

Nair: Absolutely.

Gardner: Tell me how that works.

Nair: For many of our partners we provide the website that many people land on when they search for the website on the Internet. And we also provide the gateway to their online banking. So it's extremely important for the website to stay up and online.

In addition to that, we also provide rewards checking calculations, interest rate calculations, which customer is qualified for certain products, and so on. We are definitely a part of the ecosystem for the financial institution.

Gardner: Tell me a little bit about the story of adoption. Once you settled on your strategy for virtualizing your workloads and supporting your heterogeneity issues, how did that unfold? And maybe you could point us in a direction where that’s taking you in terms of private-cloud capability?
It was a step-by-step approach of wading deeper into the virtualization world.

Nair: It was a step-by-step approach of wading deeper into the virtualization world. Our first step was just getting that abstraction layer that I was talking about by virtualizing our servers. Then, we looked at it and we said, "Well, from vSphere we can use vMotion and move our virtual servers around. And we can consolidate our storage on a storage-attached network (SAN)." That helped us disengage further from each piece of hardware.

Then, we can look at vCenter Operations Manager and predict when a server is going to run out of capacity. That was one of the areas where we started experimenting, and that proved very fruitful. That experiment was just earlier this year.

Once we did that, we downloaded some trial software with the help of VMware, which is one of the benefits that we found. We didn’t have to pay up immediately. We could see if it suited our needs first.

We used vCloud Director as a trial, and vShield and vCenter Orchestrator together. Once we put all those pieces together, we were able to get the true benefit of virtualization, which is being in a cloud where not only are you abstracted out, but you can also predict when your hardware is going to run out.

You can move to a different data center, if the need happens to be there and just run your server farm like a power utility would run their power station, building out the computing resources necessary for a user or a customer, and then shutting that off when it’s no longer necessary, all within the same hardware grid.

Fit for purpose

Gardner: I suppose it also gets to that point of cutting your total costs, when you can manage that as a fit-for-purpose exercise. It's the Goldilocks approach -- not too much, not too little. That’s especially important, when you have an ecosystem play, where you can’t always predict what your customers are going to be doing or demanding.

Nair: Yes, and that’s true internally as well as externally. We could have our development group ask for a bunch of servers all of a sudden to do some QA, and we've scripted out using the JavaScript system within vCloud Director and vCenter Orchestrator, building machines automatically. We could reduce our cost and our effort in putting those servers online, because we've automated them. Then the vCloud Director could tear them down automatically later.

Gardner: You're using a common private-cloud infrastructure managed through the VMware suite that supports your workloads for development, for QA and test, for your internal applications, as well as for all those external facing applications for your customers. Is that correct?

Nair: Right now, we're testing that internally for our development and test platforms, as you just said, and we are about to launch that into a production environment when we are fully versed in how to handle that. It’s a powerful tool and we want to be sure that we can manage it properly in the production world.

Gardner: But that's the goal -- to have a common infrastructure to support all those types of requirements and workloads.
One admin can do the work of at least three admins, once we’ve fully implemented the cloud.

Nair: Absolutely. That is the goal. That’s where we're headed.

Gardner: And that again gives you that agility, but also I think your total cost would be something to better manage when you're able to put it all into the same management capability.

Nair: That’s what our testing has shown. One admin can do the work of at least three admins, once we’ve fully implemented the cloud, because the buildup and takedown are some of the most expensive portions of creating a server. You can automate that fully and not have to worry about the takedown, because you can say, "Three days from now please remove the server from the grid." Then, the admin can go do some other tasks.

Gardner: Tell me what you actually have running there in terms of the type of hardware and how many virtual machines (VMs) you’ve got on a server? Are you using blades, and what are the applications and networking that you use?

Nair: We run Dell hardware, Dell servers, and Dell blades, and that's where we run production. In development, we also use Dell hardware, where we just use the R610s, 710s, and 810s, basically small machines, but with a fairly good amount of power. We can load up to 20 servers on in development, and as many as 12 in production. We run about 275 VMs today.

Gardner: What sort of apps? Do you cover the gamut of apps? Are they mission-critical, back-office, Web-facing? What’s the breakdown of the type of applications you're supporting in your virtualized environment?

Cutting-edge technologies

Nair: Our production software is software as a service (SaaS), so a majority of that runs on IIS Web servers, with SQL backend. We also use some new cutting-edge database technologies, MongoDB, which also runs on a virtual system.

In addition, we have our infrastructure, like our customer relationship management (CRM), for which we use SugarCRM, and our ticketing system, which is JIRA, and our collaboration tool called Confluence, as well as our build system, which is TeamCity.

All run on VMs. Our infrastructure is powered on VMs, so it’s pretty important that it stays up. It’s one of the reasons that we think running it on a SAN, with the ability to use VMotion, does help our uptime.

Gardner: Of course, you had an opportunity to go with a number of different providers on virtualization. What was it that attracted you to VMware and the full suite and full packaging of VMware’s software in this case?

Nair: A few different things attracted us to VMware. One of them was the fact that VMware fully supported different operating systems. A I said earlier, we run Red Hat, as well as Debian and Windows. When we ran those on different public and other proprietary virtualization products, we found different issues in each one.
We wanted to be able to pick up the phone, ask someone immediately, and get knowledgeable support.

For example, one of them had a time drift, where it didn’t keep time as well as it did on Windows. On Linux the time always seemed to drift a little bit. Apparently they hadn’t mastered that. Some free products did not have the ability to run Windows. They could run other versions of Linux. They couldn't run Windows properly at the time we were testing. But VMware, out of the box, could run all those operating systems.

The second thing was the support level. We didn’t want to be running our production system, put a bug out there in the community, and wait for someone to answer while we were down. We wanted to be able to pick up the phone, ask someone immediately, and get knowledgeable support. So support was a key ingredient in our selection.

We do have that option today when we have an issue. We can call up VMware and get that support. So it was support, compatibility, and the overall ecosystem. We knew that as we grew, we wouldn’t have to switch to another vendor to get cloud. We knew that we could go to VMware and get the cloud solution, as well as the virtualization solution, because virtualization was just the first step to us to become fully virtualized in a private cloud environment, with software, security like vShield and vCenter Operations Manager.

Gardner: Seeing as you’ve made that progression through virtualization, you’ve tested it out on a pilot basis internally, particularly in that heavy-duty use case, like development and test, and now of course moving towards the full private cloud with all those other workloads and applications. Any words of advice to others who are perhaps just beginning that journey? When they get started, what sort of things do you think they should keep in mind?

Nair: The first thing we did was take the trial version and started running it in a non-critical environment, where we just had a few servers that we were building out as our developers needed it, and it was actually for a data-testing scenario.

We got good at it ourselves. We learned the Java scripting that was required to bring up those systems. We didn’t have that knowledge ahead of time in the systems engineering group. We had developers who had that knowledge, of course, but to get our systems engineers to be able to script to bring up a server was very useful when we played around with it.

Virtualization lab

We actually had a little virtualization lab, where we practiced these things, because as the old adage says, practice does make perfect. The next thing was that we rolled it out in incremental steps to one product, and then eventually to a larger development group.

Gardner: Looking to the future, is there anything about mobile support or increasing the types of services that you're going to provide to your community banks, more along the lines of extended services that you provide and they brand? Do you think that this cloud environment is going to enable you to pursue that?

Nair: Yes, we’ve already started down that path. We have mobile support for the websites that we’ve created, and we’ve just implemented that earlier this year. Eventually, we plan to go into the online banking space and provide online banking for mobile devices. All that will be done in our cloud infrastructure. So yes, it’s here to stay.
Eventually, we plan to go into the online banking space and provide online banking for mobile devices.

Gardner: Because we're here at VMworld, I assume you're taking some good, hard looks at some of the newer VMware products. Is there any other VMware product that you're anticipating using or at least particularly interested in?

Nair: We want to look further at the automation that the cloud products would give us, especially with security in vShield. It’s pretty interesting how we can have a virtual firewall with our VMs and look at the other mobile software that's available.

Gardner: I'm afraid we'll have to leave it there. We’ve been talking about how banking services provider, BancVue, has been able to provide business agility to its community bank customers. And we’ve also seen how a private-cloud model is rapidly furthering their achievements in server virtualization, while allowing them to better manage their workloads and even cut costs.

I’d like to thank our guest. We’ve been here with Sunny Nair. He is the Vice President of IT and Systems Operations at BancVue, in Austin, Texas. Thanks so much, Sunny.

Nair: Thank you.

Gardner: And thanks to our audience for joining this special podcast coming to you from the 2012 VMworld Conference in San Francisco. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of podcast discussions. Thanks again for listening, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: VMware.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast from the 2012 VMworld Conference on how one company has been able to provide business agility to its customers. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2012. All rights reserved.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Interview: HP’s Tim Hall on Heightened Role of Governance in SOA, Cloud and Dynamic Business

Transcript of BriefingsDirect podcast with Hewlett-Packard on the expanding role that SOA governance plays across IT and business agility.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on services-oriented architecture (SOA) and the insurance that proper governance is providing as enterprises scale up of their use of SOA.

This insurance effect comes through deploying governance alongside and in sync with SOA development and deployment capabilities. The goal is to allow governance to give IT leaders a comprehensive ability to monitor, adjust, and enforce SOA best practices -- so that the productivity, agility, and business process refinements that SOA entails can be realized early.

Perhaps more important, proper governance ensures that SOA will grow without stumbling -- allowing companies to “crawl, walk, and run” to SOA without ever losing control. Done properly, SOA governance heightens the business benefits of services, increases IT efficiency returns, and reduces the risk that complexity could undermine the services lifecycle and hamper the adoption in large organizations.

To provide an in-depth look at how governance and SOA work in concert to empower SOA at scale, we welcome Tim Hall, Director of SOA Products for HP Software and Solutions. Welcome back to the show, Tim.

Tim Hall: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: Tim, let's look at the context. Things have certainly changed rapidly in the world. We're seeing some uptake in the adoption of SOA. We have some reports and research that indicate that companies recognize the benefits. We're also seeing more economic concern, given the macro-economic situation across the world. At this point, both at the tactical and the strategic level, what makes SOA and its governance increasingly important in the top-of-mind for architects?

Hall: There are a few things, but first and foremost the adoption of services as a fundamental unit of commerce, if you will, within IT does something very fundamental to the way that people work together, and not so much technology. It runs counter to the way that we've been developing systems in the past.

Since the beginning, one of the purposes of SOA governance has been to set the architectural vision and direction, lay the ground rules under which those activities are going to take place, and then foster collaboration between architects, and other people who engage in the processes of building solutions for companies, be they consumer focused, or be they within enterprise IT.

The challenge is that the way that we have been taught to build systems for so many years is really about eliminating dependencies on other teams and other groups. Unfortunately, that's led us into the situation we have now with vast complexity, monolithic solutions and, in many cases, monolithic systems and stacks or silos. SOA is trying to undo all of that.

While, technologically speaking, it's very easy for us to undo some of that, culturally speaking, with the people who are involved, it's much harder to undo that dynamic. That's one of the key game changers about moving to SOA. Do you have the right kind of collaboration solutions fit underneath to support it, breaking down some of the these cultural barriers, or organizational dynamics that may exist within different companies?

Gardner: In addition to this economic climate, we're also hearing a lot more about services coming from a variety of sources and from hybrid scenarios. It sounds like that's even more important, when that's taken into consideration.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Hall: Absolutely. One of the driving use cases that we focus on, since the very early days of SOA, was about mergers and acquisitions. Many of the large financial institutions were already undergoing an SOA transformation internally. The proof of those investments is to see how rapidly some of these systems, teams, and organizations can come together to actually integrate.

They were originally independent organizations, but now, as they are coming together through consolidation, either forced or otherwise, those investments should start to pay off. It should be fairly easy for them to take a quick inventory of what capabilities they expose to services and then determine either how to rapidly assemble those or which ones are going to win out, as they continue down that path.

Gardner: As I mentioned, governance seems to imply more insurance against not only failure, but insurance that, at each stage along the way -- that crawl, walk and run scenario -- the pay offs are there, the return on value is there, and the ability to manage the people and the process is there. Tell us how governance works -- the technology and the people issues.

Hall: The whole thing is tracking your progress, where are you in this journey. It's not about installing a new pack of middleware and then declaring victory. You really have to measure along the way what you are doing, and how far you have gotten. Some measures that people start off looking at are things like reuse.

We have one particular company that has been engaged in an SOA transformation for about a year or a year-and-a-half. They've identified a particular function within their organization that they turned into a service. And now it's being reused by 11 different groups within their organization. They estimate that they have saved over a million dollars in redevelopment cost, or duplicate development costs. It's avoiding those costs by having them capitalize on the service that they've offered. And, they're able to measure that through their governance activities.

Further, they're able to have a single service catalog, where they can look and see what SOA-based services have been published by these different groups. They're able to review ownership to make sure that people aren't creating kingdoms of services that they shouldn't be responsible for and distributing that functionality based on their actual roles and responsibilities within the organization.

They're also able to apply architectural policies that they can use both to inspect the services and service artifacts for compliance against the architectural vision where they are going, as well as checking for best practices. This can be done in an automated fashion, which then frees up resources from having to desk check or to manually check those artifacts one-by-one.

Gardner: I suppose with any large scale and complex undertaking like SOA there might be a tendency to say, "Well, let's wait on certain things and let's test on a pilot basis or iterative basis." What's the rationale for bringing governance in early, part and parcel with just about any other SOA activities?

Hall: There's a real spectrum of responses to that question. We certainly had customers say, "You know what. I'm not going to be ready for this, until I have X number of services under my belt." And, we certainly have had other customers that say, "I don't even want to get started on this until I have the appropriate infrastructure put in place, because I know how my organization works, and without that supporting element, I fear for chaos on day one."

It's really a matter of mapping your organizational maturity and what you're trying to achieve with the appropriate tools. People shouldn't be running out and buying tools, unless they really understand what problems those tools are going to solve, and the fact that certain organizations can introspect what they have done in the past and say what problems they want us to solve and or avoid. With zero services, it's great.

Other organizations need to try it out within their four walls and get some hands-on experience, some organizational or collective learning, to project how they want to take things forward from there in a way that works for them.

HP is here to help either customer take those steps, but the key thing is looking at the organizational dynamics, the types of questions that you'd like to answer, the type of activities you'd like to automate, and then coming and working with the vendors to see how products can help mix and match to meet their specific needs.

Gardner: Now, you've done some research looking into how companies are actually putting these into practice -- these methods, technologies, and organizational approaches. Was there anything that surprised you, and was there anything that stood out that reinforces some of this "governance first and center" mentality?

Standards Drive Adoption

Hall: The thing that's surprising to me is that the adoption of SOA is kind of spread out. It's going on its eighth year, and I am not talking about just WS-*, Web services set of interoperable standards. In general, the concept has been around for a long time, but the current wave that we are talking about was really driven by these sets of standards.

What's interesting about it is that we're learning lots of interesting things about IT, and in particular, the ways that we can do things better. The whole notion of instilling an architectural vision to support change and flexibility; to give tools to the folks who are building composite systems, so they can better manage the roles and responsibilities for the various people that are participating in that; and better communicate with operations is something that we haven’t done very well.

So, the surprising thing for me is that the lessons that we're learning, that are specifically being applied to SOA right now, have more far-reaching implications. As we look at things, like the different compositional patterns for systems that are coming -- Web 2.0 technologies, Ajax, rich Internet applications (RIAs), putting front ends on some of these things, or cloud computing -- all of these things are interrelated. My question is, should we not be applying these fantastic concepts and activities that we have been establishing through SOA governance more broadly to support all of these different types of next-generation composition?

From HP's perspective the answer is absolutely. The question is at what point are we going to be talking about next-generation application lifecycle management, or next-generation application composition and stop talking about SOA by itself as an island.

Gardner: It really sounds as if we're not just talking about governing the SOA transition, but about governing IT transformation fundamentally.

Hall: That's right. The big issue is that we seem to be reaching this point of event sustainability, where IT has been focused on what we call "capability-centric IT." It's focused on servers, storage, CPUs, fan speeds, and all these things.

That's just not the language of business. The challenge is, when we have all this complexity we have to deal with, how do we hide it? How do we tune it, so that it's working in an appropriate manner, and aligned with what the business is trying to do? The answer is that the lessons are coming out of services.

The whole notion of providing a service is to hide the layers of abstraction and to hide the complexity behind layers of abstraction, so that we can make changes behind the scenes that don't necessarily disrupt or alter the offering of the service. There are a lot of examples of this in the real world. Why hasn't IT been able to do a better job of capitalizing on those things?

This is one of those transformation opportunities. We're not just talking about Web services. We're talking about different ways in which we need to be able to flexibly compose and offer capabilities back to the business through a channel called a service.

Gardner: So, the tools, technologies, and methods that we have in place and that we're starting to scale out for governance can cross some boundaries, right? For example, "development and deployment," not just "development and then throwing it over to deployment."

There needs to be more coordination there among architects, but also those focused on business processes, and those focused on the agility of the business, and how that relates. Tell us how what HP sees as SOA governance is able to cross these boundaries.

Hall: One of the things that we are seeing more and more of, as we're going deeper into the end of 2008 and looking forward into 2009 and the spread of adoption over the last seven years, is that new constituents come to the table. They ask, "What's the lifecycle of this service?” We've got this group of people who are now testing the service. How does that relate to its status for promotion into production environment? Shouldn't they get a say as to whether the service should or should not be promoted, based on the results, be it functional, performance, or security testing? They absolutely should.

On the flip side, maybe earlier upstream, you've got a group of business analysts, who are being told, "We need to offer a new product to the market. Go figure out how we are going to do that. What are the different channels of distribution? What does it mean in terms of the supply chain? What does it mean in terms of ordering off of the Website, and how can we facilitate that as rapidly as possible?"

And they're like, "Oh, gee, what do I have in my toolkit to be able to pull this off?" The first things they want to do are: A, understand the business requirements, but then B, look at what's available to them. Then, can they reasonably compose something out of what already exists. Or, can they work with folks in IT to say, “Hey, there is a gap here. We've got 80 percent of the parts we need, but we need somebody to fill in this 20 percent. How quickly can we get there?”

So, there are more people coming to the table, more constituents coming to say, “How can I connect to these governance activities that are going on for services, but really for the purpose of generating some new business outcomes?” That, to me, is tremendously exciting.

They want to link in to the control points for the service lifecycle, and clearly we can offer up where that happens. From HP's perspective, we are definitely trying to make sure that the collaboration between architects, quality assurance professionals, and operations personnel are there. That's kind of announcing that the various solution offerings that we're bringing to market are to make sure that none of these is an island. Those control points can reasonably be connected and allow for collaboration across all the different participants.

Gardner: That's what quite different about the SOA governance, compared to traditional IT management. It's, "Bring more people to the table, but get them there in a way that these inputs can be accepted, balances can be found and adjusted, and then automated over time." Those are the balances between too much control over what people can do, versus too little, but on a dynamic basis.

Tell us how the touch points for these different folks who have an impact, or role, and should have an ability to contribute and collaborate as to how these services evolve. Tell us how they relate to governance, at least in HP's philosophy. How do they engage with these tools? Is this a series of different inputs? Is there a methodological professional services approach?

Individual Tools

Hall: Everybody has their own set of tools currently. When you look across the IT landscape, are you going to try to drag people out of the tool set that they are currently using into something new, or you are going to keep them in their existing tool set and find the plug points that allow them to collaborate a little more naturally?

Gardner: I suppose we're at a point now, where we don't need to be a SQL-programmer, or a C++ programmer. Now, more of the folks who are involved with the business process are able to have the inputs into these governance functions.

Hall: That's exactly right. That's exactly right, and so everybody, whether they're using a modeling tool to define business-level artifacts, or whether it's an architect who is in an integrated development environment (IDE) looking at a particular artifact, they need to be able, in some way, shape or form, to plug that back into the system of record, or a system of record, that then helps facilitate communication across the various other teams.

One of the strategies that we have employed is to build specific plug-ins for the IDEs or the modeling tools. Then, the other portion of the strategy is to ask what standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) we can start to offer that allow us to connect to third-party systems that are responsible for quality assurance or establishing a configuration management database and operations, so that we can understand how to start connecting to these other systems and to systems that might exist within organizations that may not come from HP.

Gardner: I suppose that payoffs and return on investment are important. They always have been, but they're particularly important now. What examples do we have? How have companies benefited from governance and recognize that governance is part and parcel of SOA? If you have some companies, some anecdotes, or some case studies, I think that would help.

Hall: I mentioned one. This company recognizes that they saved a million dollars in the first 12 months, simply by having and establishing a service catalog and publicizing it. Before folks went down the path of building something custom, they looked to the catalog first, and saw that something existed that they could utilize immediately. They've got this particular capability now consumed 11 or so times now within their organization. That was huge.

We have another large telecommunication company in Europe that has had a 320-odd percent return on investment (ROI) in establishing their SOA governance and management solution and integrated solutions that include both of those parts. It crosses the spectrum of everything from customer retention, to time to market, to decreased downtime and increased availability. They did a fairly comprehensive job of looking at what they had before and what they were trying to get to, and they were pretty pleased with the results.

Gardner: Are there any other payoffs from governance that people might not be aware of that some of these organizations are finding as it become a bit more mature and a bit more scaled out when it comes to the SOA use?

Hall: A lot of it has to do with the cultural aspects. People are surprised to find that it's so difficult to change the people who are engaged in the activity of building systems. So, it's better that you can provide the tooling underneath them, so they have a standardized mechanism that they can utilize to understand what other people are doing. There is a huge benefit to that.

We have teams of architects that are plotting out what needs to be built and when. There are certain synergies that you can get from that by identifying, “Hey, wait a minute. We're about to start this project, and it looks like somebody has identified this particular service should exist in our lexicon, our enterprise architecture if you will. We should go and talk with them, and get joint requirements built out on this, and we could both take advantage of this more quickly." I think that's a huge hurdle to overcome, when most organizations operate on the “Not-Invented-Here” mentality.

Gardner: Let's look at the future. We mentioned earlier that the cloud and services from a hybrid or variety of sources seem to be appealing to more people for a variety of reasons. We're also seeing why it makes sense to balance governance across more than just IT functions, involving business process, management, and organizational issues. What's your take on the future when it comes to governance in SOA? Do we start to think about governance more broadly in SOA, in the sense that it becomes the underlying fabric of how companies balance IT innovation and management?

Hall: Absolutely. That's something that the SOA governance activities are teaching us. Establishing the vision for where you want to get to, and then trying to automate the checking of how you are doing towards that is definitely a desirable goal. But, I think one of the things you're going to see -- I'm not sure how far in the future, it's coming up more and more these days -- is an emphasis on understanding the business-to-business connections, or what some folks will call "federation."

I want to be very specific when I say "federation," because it is one of those overloaded terms that creates a lot of mystery. If we can take the wraps off of federation, what we're talking about is a pattern for how to expose the capabilities that I own within my domain to other domains. Those other domains could be within my organization, they could be elsewhere, or they could be third parties.

The good news is that SOA fundamentally supports that type of activity. The question is how well the tools support that activity today. HP has been at the forefront of this through the establishment of UDDI, a standardized protocol for sharing metadata across multiple environments, whether that's through the use of private UDDI, which is the most widely used UDDI registry today, or even in the early days of the public UDDI.

What you're going to see, especially because of the merger and acquisition activity we talked about, is the emergence of software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. As we move into a more comprehensive cloud set of offerings, we're going to need to federate the different instances of services, metadata, their ownership, the consumption of those pieces, and really formalizing the relationships of using tools between the consumers and providers of those things.

When I say establishing relationships, I think about trading-partner agreements that get put in place, or supply chain agreements. They get put between supply chain partners about what information they're going to share and in what context they can use that. We're really talking about doing the same kind of formalization with the consumption and providing of these various capabilities, in order for models like SaaS and cloud to scale up to the level that they need to in order to make a significant impact.

Gardner: It almost sounds as if the boundaries between the internal organizations inside companies, as well as between partners, supply chains, and other ecologies are becoming more permeable. That's important and that's good for a business reason, but it also needs to be managed, It needs to be balanced across risks, privacy, security, access, identity governance, and those sorts of things. So, governance really seems to be again at the forefront, not just of SOA, but of how companies will redefine themselves as not just a brick wall between them and the rest of the world, but as the sort of managed permeable membrane -- for lack of a better analogy.

Internal Governance is Necessary

Hall: That's absolutely the case, and I think the concern that everybody should have, is that you don't treat people outside your organization the same way that you treat people inside. In some ways, that's a good thing, and in some ways, it's a bad thing. As a specific example, you go through a lot of headache and heartache to put those trading partner agreements in place. There are lawyers and stacks of documents that go back and forth. The good news is, you have established the ground rules for who does what to whom, when, and where, including the worst case situations.

That's great, except that you don't treat the people within your organization the same way. Then what happens is that you're running on a set of informal agreements. When there's a problem, what happens? If that permeable membrane example is going to play out and be effective, we'd better start doing some formalization of those relationships internally, because you never know how long that relationship is going to last. It maybe internal today, and it maybe external tomorrow. You'd like to have the ground rules be relatively consistent, as you move from one model to the next.

Gardner: So, we'll need to have the ability to identify the rules, house the rules, share the rules, enforce the rules across these business activities, and SOA governance seems to be the best candidate at the moment, right?

Hall: Absolutely. The big deal is looking at how we can foster better collaboration through the formalization of these agreements. For example, a service provider needs to declare what roles and responsibilities they have to fill, as well as setting the expectations of what the consumer is responsible for doing, and do that in a flexible way that can be negotiated using the tools.

Gardner: And, importantly, the visibility is there because people need to examine whether these relationships are working or not, what may or may not be right or wrong with them, with the proper access that they would get by overseeing an SOA or services lifecycle? They get that into these business relationships, and it's "trust but verify" basically, when it comes to this level of governance.

Hall: That's exactly what I'm saying. At what point are we going to stop talking just the SOA aspects of this, and broaden this discussion and say, “Look what we learned from SOA governance. This can actually apply more broadly to a whole range of relationships, including application composition, be it internal, external, etc.”

Gardner: We can probably go on for another hour just talking about the data sharing implications of all this.

Hall: That's actually a really interesting one from a regulatory perspective. You start hearing different government organizations popping up and saying that we cannot put our medical records on a server in India, China, or anywhere other than within our borders. Those are going to be regulatory requirements that all customers have to operate under, and so they're going to need to look at those relationships. Even these SaaS and cloud providers may need to develop distributed mechanisms and instances of their technology, to ensure that they are able to do business and comply with those regulations as well.

Gardner: Just to toot your horn, I suppose HP has a number of these technologies, and areas of expertise in its quiver, be it IT management, SOA governance, or SOA infrastructure. There is the business technology optimization (BTO) through the lifecycle of development and deployment. There are the professional services, the understanding of these businesses. So you're seemingly in a pretty good position, given what we've been discussing.

Hall: HP has become the largest technology company on the planet by revenue, and there is a reason behind that. It's not just printers and ink. We're aggressively continuing to move forward on a number of these fronts, from investments that we make through our HP labs, which is the kind of the deep research that we see paying off between the five- to 10-year time horizon, to how do those things transition into specific product offerings and capabilities that come out of our hardware, software, and services groups.

Obviously, the acquisition of EDS allows us to scale up our service offerings as well. We have a big quiver, and we definitely pull all those pieces together to deliver comprehensive solutions to customers.

Gardner: I think we will leave it there. Obviously, it's a very large opportunity, but not without pitfalls. For those companies that do get governance right and can expand it beyond just Web services at a department level, and bring it from a tactical, strategic, and then extended-enterprise basis, there are perhaps some very important business benefits.

Hall: Absolutely, and it's critically important to look for trusted guides, people who have seen the last seven or eight years, and also have a vision for how to take this forward.

Gardner: Well, great. We've been discussing the importance of SOA governance and how it helps heighten business benefits. It can return higher efficiency and reduce risk of the complexity that can undermine services across the lifecycle. Helping us to understand these issues today has been Tim Hall, director for SOA products for HP Software and Solutions. Thanks for joining, Tim.

Hall: Thanks again, Dana.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You've been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Thanks, and come back again next time.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast with Hewlett-Packard on the expanding role that SOA governance plays across IT and business agility. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2008. All rights reserved.