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“Mashup Corporations”. vs. “The Community Project”: The use of fictional settings to explain SOA

I recently met Chris Thomas from Intel,  one of the authors of the book “Mashup Corporations: The End of Business As Usual“,  at an internal conference. This book is a cultural, rather than technical, guide to Service-Oriented Architectures and Web 2.0 technologies.   I read the book on the weekend and what was the most interesting aspect of the book is that it uses a fictional corporation to create a setting to explore these topics.

As I was reading the book, I was struck by some similarities and differences between the book and the BPX Community Project  (in which I am involved) which is also set in a fictional setting and explores similar issues.  I decided it would be interesting to compare the two entities in a hip-hop battle style (sort of like Run DMC vs. Jason Nevins – It’s Like That) but without the desire to find out which is better.




Community Project


“Mashup Corporations”


  • 1. Create a better understanding of the role in the BPX in the current organizational structure
  • 2. Test different methodologies for project lifecycles based on Web 2.0 technologies (Wikis, Blogs, etc.). This lifecycle is from project initiation to project conclusion with an actual implementation.
  • 3. Provide public available examples of projects that are based on SAP’s Enterprise SOA technology (Enterprise Services, Guided Procedures, CE, etc.)

“In this book we tell the story of a company that discovers how to put SOA to work on new customers and new markets. As we tell this story, some patterns of success will emerge. Each chapter will identify the challenges, key questions, strategy and tactics, examples, and rules that apply to each stage of the transformation.” (- taken from the book web site).

Communication Medium




SDN / BPX Community members

Authors  (Andy Mulholland, Chris S. Thomas, Paul Kurchina, etc.)

Fictional Setting

Big Machines Corp: a construction company

Vorpal Inc, an appliance maker

Characters in Fictional Setting

Individuals in the bottom half of corporate hierarchy (BPX, developer, architect, etc.)

Primarily individuals in the upper half of corporate hierarchy (CEO, CFO, CIO, etc..)


One process improvement project

Corporate IT strategy as it relates to different business relationships (customers, suppliers, etc…)

Communication artifacts in fictional environment

Scripts (conversations), project deliverables (documentation regarding UI design, etc.)

Conversations, emails, newspaper articles

Additional analysis based on fictional environment


Excellent practical application/explanation of the lessons learned from the fictional setting in the form of rules, examples, etc.


After finishing the book, I had a few ideas:

  • When you’ve read the last page of a book you liked, there is often a sadness that the experience has ended. Wouldn’t it be great to somehow be able to continue the experience … Of course, you might be able to comment on an author’s blog. You might even be able to write your own blog reviewing the book. What about giving the readers of a book the ability to “continue the story” which the authors have started. I can imagine some sort of “fan fiction” in which readers could take the characters from Vorpal Inc. and place them in new settings dealing SOA-related issues. Those individuals who have read and enjoyed the book can be considered a community. What about creating a wiki where these interested individuals could interact with the authors and each other using this fictional setting.
  • In one of the future pilots for the Community Project, I’d like to create a scenario where Big Machine Corp provides web-services that are available externally for customers or suppliers. This is the original idea in “Mashup Corporations”. We could explore the issues that are concerned with issues from the perspective of the BPX, SAP developer, etc.

A comparison of the two entities suggests that material based in a fictional setting is useful to explain SOA-related issues.  In a Web 2.0 world, I think the community approach where everyone can contribute content to be very valuable but I also think expert analysis of this content – irregardless of its origin – is critical as well.  The mixture of community content – based on material published in other media formats -with expert analysis provides the most benefits for all involved and might represent a new communications medium that fits ideally in Web 2.0 environments.

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