In the “let’s try this” spirit, at the September SOA Consortium meeting I tried something new, our first ever SOA Soapbox Derby. The intent was to create an informal forum for practitioners to exchange ideas on activities that are critical to sustaining SOA success.
Each derby participant was given 15 minutes to soapbox on a single SOA Sustainment topic of their choosing, followed by another 15 minutes to engage in related conversation with meeting attendees. The rules were simple:
• No ranting about particular products, organizations or individuals
• No filibusters, 15-minute limit will be enforced
• Engage your peers
• Have fun
I’m happy to report, the rules were followed, we all learned something and it really was a lot of fun. We’ll definitely hold another Derby, either at a SOA Consortium meeting or another industry event. Until then, we are releasing podcasts of four soap-boxers:
• Todd Biske, Senior IT Architect, Monsanto on SOA Governance
• Mike Kavis, Chief Technologist, Kavis Technology Consulting on SOA and Organizational Change
• Victor Harrison, Partner, CSC on SOA and Model Driven Architecture (MDA)
• Britta Schatz, Director, Information Technology, Penn National Insurance on SOA Success at small and medium sized businesses
Lifting my text from the SOA Consortium Insights blog, here’s what went on:
Todd Biske, Senior IT Architect at Monsanto soap-boxed that SOA Governance is a critical element to SOA success. “SOA Governance, done right or wrong, has most impact on an organization’s SOA effort.” Todd defines SOA Governance as “the combination of people, policies, and processes that an organization uses to achieve a desired behavior”.
During his session, Todd pointed out the importance of having clearly defined, measurable outcomes associated with SOA adoption, and then establishing policies and processes to support the attainment of those goals. In respect to processes, Todd emphasized the importance of policy definition, communication and education and continuous evaluation and improvement. When these three processes are well executed, then the fourth process, enforcement becomes less onerous to the governed and governors.
Follow-on conversation with meeting attendees included defining decision-making and decision rights, balancing differing points of view between service consumers and providers, SOA center role and composition, project managers, SOA and measurement, and the value of a shared understanding on the functionality, availability and performance of services.
Mike Kavis, Chief Technologist, Kavis Technology Consulting soap-boxed on the importance of recognizing and managing the organizational change implications of SOA adoption. “Organizational implications need to be managed and planned as part of SOA roadmap, with defined milestones.”
During his talk, Mike shared insights from his experience leading an organization’s transition to SOA and BPM to solve a pressing business need. Despite starting with formal communication from the CIO, and having a communication plan, Mike and his team realized they underestimated the work to support organizational change. As Mike shared, “people don’t hate change; they hate the way change is introduced. People need to understand why the change is happening and what the implications for them are.”
From that context, Mike described the work his team did to bridge the change gap, and offered advice on how organizations should address organizational change on their SOA initiatives. Follow-on conversation with meeting attendees included measuring the change program, the criticality of winning over middle managers and recognizing not everyone will make the transition.
Victor Harrison, Partner, CSC soap-boxed that sustainable SOA success is inextricably tied to the use of a model-driven approach. Although SOA shares a technology lineage with earlier distributing computing paradigms, SOA differs in respect to dynamism. This dynamism is present in the architecture, via mediators, and the end-solutions, via conjunctive composition or mashups.
Building his case, Victor spoke of the technical and human capabilities required to support SOA’s dynamism. “As agility goes up, so does (almost exponentially) the engineering rigor that is required. Engineering rigor is not easily socialized or scaled. A way of dealing with this is to embody this knowledge in a set of models…Moving knowledge from individuals to models allows you to socialize your development and delivery and get a better result more quickly at less cost.”
Follow-on conversation with meeting attendees included skills shortages and transitions, the relationship between MDA and BPM, resolving the gaps between BPMN and UML, and the use of modeling to create a shared language between business and IT professionals.
To listen to Victor’s soapbox, please go here.
Britta Schatz, Director, Information Technology, Penn National Insurance soap-boxed that SOA is not out of reach for small and medium sized companies. Supporting Britta’s stance is Penn National’s win in the CIO Magazine | SOA Consortium case study contest.
Britta covered a lot of ground during her talk, sharing insights on the similarities and differences when employing a SOA approach in respect to gaining business buy-in, risk identification and mitigation, service design, project coordination, governance and testing. Britta emphasized the importance of disciplined systems development, project management and change management practices, and the criticality of load and performance testing.
Follow-on conversation with meeting attendees included technology platforms and integration points, executive steering, the architecture team’s role and formalization, extending SOA success and governance beyond the initial project, metrics, measurement and service levels, and the performance testing environment.
[Disclosure: The SOA Consortium is a client of my company, Elemental Links]