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Implementing SOA Without Enterprise Mashups? You Might As Well Kiss Your Job Goodbye!

Enterprise-wide support for SOA hinges on the ability to demonstrate value to the business at large

John Crupi's Blog

Ok, ok, it's an overstatement. But the ROI of SOA is difficult, at best, to define and measure. Have you noticed that the press and blogosphere is filled with SOA implementers/analysts discussing the ROI of SOA and the idea that stand-alone SOA efforts are DOA? For a small snapshot of this teacup tempest, look no further than the recent commentary from SOA expert David Linthicum, the Nucleus Report on SOA ROI, and the subsequent commentary from ZDNet's Joe McKendrick and IT advisors Neil Macehiter and Neil Ward-Dutton.

While these experts differ on issues like the importance of SOA ROI, how to calculate SOA ROI (if at all), and why we don't have more/better of it, they all seem to agree on one thing: 'Enterprise-wide support for SOA hinges on the ability to demonstrate value to the business at large — more growth, revenue opportunities, and all that good stuff.' (Joe's words, not mine.) And that's where your job is at stake. Or, at least, the long-term support of your SOA efforts.

 

Let's face it, SOA is plumbing. Nice, shiny, efficient plumbing to be sure, but still plumbing. And your average business dude/dudette (think sales manager, marketing director, finance officer, or customer support rep) could care less about it. In fact, if they think about it all, they probably just hope it stays right where it is: out of sight and running quietly. These same business folk probably appreciate the marble floors, wood-paneled doors, and brass fixtures that surround this plumbing much more. In other words, they like that bit of 'stuff' that actually frames the plumbing and brings it to life.

SOAs need to change this inward-focused quality. To paraphrase Macehiter/Ward-Dutton in their recent note, 'More big vs small thinking: SOA vs BPM', IT must focus on where the real business value of SOA lies. That means it needs help. Macehiter/Ward-Dutton point out that BPM can help distill some SOA value up to the business level. And as one of the early implementers of Enterprise Ajax, JackBe knows from extensive first-hand experience that Ajax makes a great service consumer.

To this collection of SOA-complimenting tools I'd add the enterprise mashup. JackBe has found in its enterprise mashup implementations that they can actually drag the SOA out of the proverbial IT basement and onto the end-user's desks. It's not only highly visible, but it's user-driven, giving IT a way fulfill the promise of SOA and enhance that elusive SOA ROI.

As a practical guy I like definitive examples. Luckily, we've already seen a number of very real synergies from the mashup/SOA combination. Just a few of them include:

 

  • Mashups can help create normalized 'virtual' services from sources that haven't been 'SOAed' yet. It's no secret that SOA efforts can take years. Until the formal SOA magic has been applied, a quick, standardized service can help users get started earlier than otherwise.
  • Mashups let users 'right-size' the granularity of services. Now IT doesn't have to guess/study/analyze whether a service offers data that is 'too specific', 'too general', 'too dated', or 'too cold'.
  • Mashups let users share their resulting services, making them a part of the service-generating network. Now IT doesn't have to do it alone.
  • Mashups let end-users visualize the SOA in graphs, charts, tables, maps, etc. Instead of hoping the aging corporate portal has a place/way to get services visualized in the way(s) the users want , users can each do it themselves to meet their own ever-changing needs.
  • Mashups let users join in data from outside the enterprise. Today's SOA efforts are largely inwardly-focused. But users often want to include external data in their work. Mashups don't care and good mashup software makes the actual location of a data service irrelevant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOA is still relatively new. Enterprise Mashups are, urguably, even newer. So you are likely just getting your Enterprise Mashup mojo going. But if SOA is on your enterprise to-do list, make sure you get Enterprise Mashups on that plan as well. It may not cost you your job, but it could move your SOA from 'questionable' to 'successful'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Stories By John Crupi

John Crupi is Vice President and Engineering System Architect at Greenwave Systems, where he guides development on the edge-based visual analytics and real-time pattern discovery environment AXON Predict. He has over 25 years of experience executing enterprise systems and advanced visual analytics solutions. He was Chief Technology Officer at Predixion Software prior to its acquisition by Greenwave, and led development of the Predixion RIOT IoT analytics platform. He also served as CTO at real-time operational intelligence startup JackBe (acquired by German software behemoth Software AG) and as CTO of the Sun Microsystems SOA Practice, where he was recognized as a Sun Distinguished Engineer.

Mr. Crupi is co-author of the highly regarded Java reference Core J2EE Patterns: Best Practices and Design Strategies (Prentice Hall) and co-author of 13 patents on advanced analytics and pattern-based system design. He’s contributed to numerous industry journals and publications, served on the international advisory board for Sys-Con’s ‘AJAX & RIA Journal,’ and has specialized in advanced real-time patterns and analytics for IoT for the past 10 years. He earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering at University of Maryland College Park, and his MS in Engineering Administration with a sub-focus in Artificial Intelligence from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

John is a three-time "Washingtonian TECH TITAN” award recipient from Washingtonian Magazine for leadership recognition within the Washington Technology Community.

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