There were a lot of great presentations and passionate discussions at Tuesday's SOA Executive Forum in New York. Everyone seemed to agree on one thing -- we're all still in the very early stages of extending Web services/SOA out to the enterprise, but once implemented, the benefits can be impressive. However, there is a need to identify best practices in SOA, better leverage metadata, and, most of all, maintain the simplicity that Web services and SOA are supposed to provide. Many speakers and panelists lamented that Web services and SOA is becoming too complex, defeating the original reason for its implementation in the first place.
The star of the event, put on by InfoWorld/IDG, was Dr. John Halamka, CIO of Harvard Medical School and Caregroup Health Systems. Dr. Halamka is a leading implementer and proponent of Web services. I had the chance a few weeks back to speak with Dr. Halamka one-on-one, and some of that discussion can be found in a previous post at the site, as well as in an article in Database Trends & Applications.
Harvard's implementation serves a constituency of millions of patients as well as thousands of caregivers, so, naturally, data security and privacy are paramount concerns. But that's not keeping Halamka up at night. As a world-renowned institution, Harvard University is a huge hacker target, and gets attacked, on the average, every seven minutes, Halamka pointed out. As a result, Harvard embeds security into everything it does. "Most of the attacks either come from Eastern Europe or Eastern Cambridge," he said.
Halamka also expressed confidence in the emerging WS-Security standard, and said he is evolving Harvard Medical School's SOA infrastructure to WS-Security. Prior to WS-Security, "we've had to invent [security technologies]."
Mark Carges, CTO of BEA Systems, also presented highlights from a recent survey BEA had sponsored, which showed great interest in SOA at this time. The largest percentage of some 600 companies in the survey, 13%, reported they were in the pilot stages of an SOA, and eight percent had rolled out some services across their enterprises. About 42% said that implementing an SOA was a critical priority over the next 12 months, and this percentage grows to 61% for the next three to five years.