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Enterprise SOA: Seeing the Bigger Picture

I took a lot of heat for not blogging much the last several months. As much as I’d like to say I was just having fun with family, hobbies, …etc., I was actually hard at work with Vamsi Mohun putting together a book for Wiley on the whole Enterprise SOA topic.

The book focuses on the fundamentals of ESA the main considerations are for successful organizational adoption along with a tour of the myriad of tools and technologies that support the effort.

One great thing that came out of this project was the chance to talk to so many organizations about their awareness, vision and plans for adopting Enterprise SOA. I can tell you there are still a lot of organizations out there who are underestimating what Enterprise SOA brings to the table and how to apply it. One CIO whose company has worked closely with SAP as an early adopter said it best. After yet another one of Shai’s great keynotes on Enterprise SOA he commented:

“Scott – SAP has been telling us, teaching us, and delivering to us ESA-based capabilities for years, but I don’t think everyone (meaning other customers) is  getting it…”

There are many reasons for this, but let’s start with the biggest one of all – not seeing the whole picture. If you have ever watched an HDTV program and then flipped to the regular broadcast you quickly notice that part of the screen is missing. Enterprise SOA is a lot like that for many people we meet with. They feel they “get it”, but just not all of it. Unfortunately those missing pieces tell an important part of the story. Here’s some typical responses when we ask IT leads questions around “what is your company doing with Enterprise SOA.”

“It looks like SAP is giving us a bunch of web services to tie things together. Is that really any better than using the BAPIs, EAI tools and other integration methods we’ve nailed down in our environment?”

“I’m looking for the fully SOA-based business applications I can buy today that will make a difference”

“We need a strategy for our ESB, Repository, Intermediary…etc. tools to deliver our SOA roadmap and need to figure out where SAP’s offerings fit in with other vendors”

“We’ve been evaluating CAF and Visual Composer as ways to build new applications”

These types of comments describe things like service-oriented integration, buying service-oriented packaged applications, implementing service-oriented infrastructure, or composing applications based on services respectively. Each is an important piece of the SOA implementation roadmap, but none alone and even all of these together barely scratch the surface on what Enterprise SOA brings to the table from an IT perspective.

Increasingly we’ve been helping people build Enterprise SOA roadmaps that span five disciplines:

1.     Business to IT Alignment

2.     Process and Information Management

3.     Shared Services Delivery and Governance

4.     Composition and Integration

5.     IT Infrastructure Enablement

The first two help define the “why” and the last three focus more on optimizing the “how” to get real value from Enterprise SOA. From an IT organizational perspective this translates into integrating a lot of concepts:

     Business process management

     Model-driven definition and implementation

     Event management and EDA

     Composition and integration capabilities

     Services inventory creation and management processes

     SDLC updates for SOA impacts

     Application “aware” networks and service-oriented infrastructure

     …etc.

Being able to see all of this at once is not easy, but only by pulling all the pieces together SOA work. Especially important is the business process management competency. This is why the role of enterprise architecture is so important to Enterprise SOA adoption. Scott Feldman, Paul Kurchina, and Peter Loop have done a great job building out ASUG communities in these areas:

Would definitely recommend you check them out if you want to start seeing the full picture around Enterprise SOA and how to pull all the parts together into a cohesive plan.

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      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt
      Welcome back Scott. Your voice was missed. And in the interim there has been a lot of clamoring for real world examples and companies that are implementing, and successfully implementing this vision. Scott Feldman, Paul Kurchina, and Peter Loop are doing a magnificent job in evangelizing the EA role and building a community. In fact this ASUG Enterprise Architecture group also feels a close alignment with the BPXers and SDNers.
      They will have special session the day before TechEd Amsterdam.
      One of that group, [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] has begun to write about Enterprise Architects in the new Wiki 1.0 In fact he just began creating a new wiki EA page: Enterprise Architects FAQ.
      Perhaps you can take some contents from your upcoming book and help flesh out the FAQs with more FAQs about Enterprise SOA. There's a whole segment there that begs content.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      Thanks Marilyn! Your points are spot on and why I think SAP is delivering the missing links to making it easier to implement a business driven SOA program with real success. The three challenges we've seen time and again:

      (1) How to make this business driven -> answer involving BPX community which understands opportunity identification and value analysis as well as creating composites

      (2) How to have actionable enterprise architecture processes helping coordinate and govern -> answer the SAP Enterprise Architecture Framework which Natty previewed at Tech Ed that aligns all the relevant EA models

      (3) How to create reusable services that leverage all the infrastructure and process investments -> answer starting with out of the box Enterprise Services Packs and evolving the ES definsitions through the ES Community.

      Organizations that have mature and disciplined EA efforts underway were able to overcome many of these challenges through their own efforts. There are many more customers, particularly in some of the industries where SAP is strongest who will benefit greatly from having a lot of this better defined and supported as you just outlined.