Monday, July 23, 2007

SOA will fold into general enterprise architecture, Linthicum tells Open Group crowd

While enterprise architects (EAs) and services oriented architecture (SOA) architects are often at loggerheads today, the two will working hand in hand toward the same goals in a matter of a few years.

"In five years I don't think there will be SOA ... it's all going to fold back into enterprise architecture," said Dave Linthicum, CEO of Linthicum Group, in a keynote address today at The Open Group's Enterprise Architecture Practitioner's Conference in Austin, Texas. "SOA is a subpattern of EA."

[UPDATE: Todd Biske is also blogging from the event. ... Many slides from the speakers here.]

In effect, Linthicum said, SOA is just good EA. The goals for each are ultimately the same: To get better at building agile IT architectures and to make change the number one requirement for IT.

But that's not what you'll find on the street. In many cases those planning SOAs are not in synch with those that are keeping the trains running on time, so to speak, inside enterprise datacenters. Linthicum pointed out that there are currently "two worlds out there," enterprise architects and SOA architects, with one working up from the existing IT landscape and the other working down, respectively, from the larger concepts of agility, reuse and orchestration of service points.

"There's not a lot of synergy, and even some fighting," said Linthicum. "The EA guys don't get full implications of SOA, and SOA guys don't get how SOA meshes with existing enterprise methods and standards."

Into this Babel, many if not most CEOs think that IT is holding them back. The business leaders want to change automated business processes much more quickly.

So many business leaders are open to SOA. They cotton to the idea of IT easily adapting and becoming agile, they encourage reuse, they want independent change management. The idea is to "orchestrate" rather than integrate, and to "configure" rather than develop, said Linthicum.

At the same time, CEOs need for all the parts that are currently running to keep running. Hence the need for deeper understanding and cooperation between the EA crowd and SOA crowd.

So what are the next steps to make EA and SOA act in concert? How can the will of the organization at large be cultivated to support the $7 million to $10 million needed for even a medium-sized business to meaningfully implement SOA?

Linthicum recommends that IT leaders see beyond the SOA hype, to encourage enterprise architects to become advocates for positive change that embraces SOA principles and methods. He also says that SOA must play well with and embrace such mega trends such as SaaS, Web 2.0, application modernization, datacenter consolidation, and semantic data management.

"See the emerging web as a resource," Linthicum extolled the crowd of some 300 IT leaders and architects. "The lines are blurring between enterprise apps and the web."

Conceptually IT professionals are on board about SOA ... how to get there is the rub, he said. There remain too many "bad practices," such as selecting technology before knowing SOA needs, not sticking to EA best practices, not creating a strong business case for SOA, using wrong people, and suffering from a lack of influence and political strength in the organization.

"Don't select technology too early, don't get caught up in the hype ... look to the data issues and semantics first ... Keep your vendors working for you. The smarter you are the more successful they can help you be," said Linthicum.

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