Thomas Been is based in Paris, France and is an expert in service oriented architecture (SOA) and enterprise information architecture. Thomas has extensive international experience in technology sales, consulting, marketing and alliance management.
Today, on stage at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2012 in Orlando, I was able to catch a great presentation by Anne Thomas Manes and Yefim Natis. Both Anne and Yefim brought the audience up to speed on the latest news in the world of information architecture and the trends they see developing.
Much has changed as we’ve moved past the economic downturn. Things were tough and many organizations weren’t willing to fund infrastructure projects. Many investments, including in service oriented architectures (SOA), took a back seat. We’re now making up for lost time, and it couldn’t come at a better moment. For those who don’t know SOA, this is a key concept for anyone conducting business on the Web, which is now every major enterprise.
Times have changed
Anne made it clear that SOA is a prerequisite for organizations to leverage what Gartner calls the “Nexus of Forces“: Cloud, Mobile, Information, Social. This is a very, very important idea to follow, as the Nexus of Forces is actually a call for information integration like we’ve never known. Business will depend on it.
In her talk, Anne stated that web protocols like SOAP, commonly used within the enterprise, were appropriate only for an enterprise’s internal services and that external web services had to be RESTful, a popular web service design model for the increasingly distributed systems in play as the Internet matures. Anne was saying that the older, simpler methods won’t work in the new world at the scale and speed that businesses will need to operate.
Anne also emphasized the importance of Web connections into backend applications (API’s) that need to be very easy to use but also carefully managed. In her opinion, Web APIs are mandatory for leveraging mobile and social technologies. Point to point integrations are no longer viable in the fast-moving web world. We need to consider the value of very standardized, very intuitive, and very well-managed interfaces.
Nexus of Forces
Later in the same presentation, Yefim Natis explained that many organizations trying to modernize and be competitive need help in leveraging the Nexus of Forces. Yefim outlined the following observations:
- Cloud computing is the ‘killer app’ for SOA implementations
- ‘Separation of concern’ means divide-and-conquer to be agile: Organizations must break down applications based on pace of change, role, function and scope. This is key to prioritization, development sequencing and putting first things first.
- Event-driven architecture is the future of computing and certainly core to the Nexus of Forces. In 2012, we have the chance to do what a fighter pilot was doing sixty years ago…making real-time decisions based on what is called the OODA Loop, or Observe, Orient, Decide and Act, but using high volumes of information moving at amazing speeds across networks and within our organizations.
- Service ecosystems allow an organization to discover and ‘serve up’ interfaces outside of your organization. The IT tendency to want to invent everything has to be overcome to compete in a world where others will have an idea or resources before you do.
- Web Oriented Architecture (WOA) is the natural heir of today’s SOA. Rather than architecting for ‘cloud last’ (as a last resort for scalability or flexibility), organizations need to put Cloud assumptions into any global-class computing model. WOA means opening up designs to next-generation patterns as core.
Gartner’s presentation was an excellent view into the critical nature of SOA as the baseline for moving into enabling the most important capabilities for social, mobile, cloud and whatever comes next. And if we think things will slow down anytime soon, any look at the pace of change makes that very unlikely. To manage what we can’t see over the technology horizon, we need to get our infrastructure houses in order today. There will be no time a year from now to create the integration architecture to be competitive. It will simply be too late.