It’s amazing what happens you put a few thousand SOA users together. Suddenly you start to get a clearer picture of what service orientation can achieve at both the business and IT levels. That was probably the biggest takeaway for this attendee at IBM’s Impact 2008 conference last week: a lot of users are well down the road with this stuff. They’ve thought about it, put it into action and it’s responsible for a significant amount of mission critical business.
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Here’s a smattering of comments made by SOA users at the show:
John Roach, director of architecture and governance at Wal-Mart, focused on using SOA to help manage store stock levels and customer demand. “If SOA doesn’t trace back to you finding the right thing when you walk into our store at the time you need it, then it isn’t material for us,” he said.
Kumar Murugan, application development manager at pharmaceutical manufacturer and marketer Novo Nordisk, talked about centralized policy management and stressed the need to view all SOA projects as part of a continuous process improvement cycle. He also highlighted the importance of having a rigorous QA process.
“You need to do a system discovery for any new service,” he said. “You need to understand how reuse affects your existing services.”
Manny Montejano, CTO at Cars.com, called governance “the key thing we need to resolve to be successful” as his company deals with explosive growth.
“It’s important to say no sometimes,” he said. “You have to let people know that some things are going to be more trouble than they’re worth.”
Anne McDiarmid, CIO for Australian fabric and crafts retailer Spotlight, made a case against trying to solve every problem with a software purchase.
“I’ve got middleware hanging out of my middleware,” she said. “I don’t need more middleware.”
A whirlwind of corporate acquisitions in foreign countries has created an integration challenge for SEB, a Swedish banking and insurance company. Enterprise architect Anders Jader targeted data as a key element in bringing together this international banking conglomerate.
“We are now in a phase where we need to transform everything into one data model and then be able to use that data as a service,” he said.
Tony John, domain lead architect at Allstate Insurance, echoed the importance of data in all things service-oriented, stating “we need more data analysts and data architects.” He noted that the bulk of a $30 million mainframe-to-SAP project “was spent on understanding the data.”
John also made the case that technologists have to understand the business they work for, not just how their niche of IT functions.
“No matter what machine or network it goes through, it’s still a group of people doing some business activity,” he said.