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From ESB to ESP: action-oriented SOA

Vendors set to unveil a mature look at SOA development.

In about a week, three SOA vendors will be announcing the launch of something they call the "SOA Maturity Model," which embodies the five key phases of the SOA lifecycle, from initial projects to evolution into a full-fledged "enterprise nervous system." The model is based on Carnegie-Mellon Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), a process improvement methodology.

The three SOA amigos -- AmberPoint, Sonic Software and Systinet -- have been promoting the model on a 10-city roadshow, and say the maturity model is intended as a tool that managers can use to assess the capabilities of their SOA projects. The five stages are outlined at the bottom of this posting.

Within the model, a company doesn't fully reach SOA until it reaches level four or five. To get there requires moving through stages one through three -- a lot of piloting, learning, and selling to the organization.

An analysis in The Register made a couple of interesting observations: first, that "installing an ESB is not a short cut to CMMI maturity," and second, levels four and five deliver value because they focus on first, business activity modeling, then event-stream processing, or ESP.

ESP seems to be a very apt acronym, since it involves pattern-matching of real-time or near-real-time events and alerts decision-makers to gathering threats.

The model defines five levels of maturity and sets a vision for business benefits realized at each of these levels.

  • Level 1: This is the initial learning and initial project phase of SOA adoption. Projects here are typically done to simultaneously meet a specific need to implement functionality while trying out specific technologies and an approach to SOA.
  • Level 2: At this level, standards are set as to the technical governance of SOA implementation, typically under leadership of the architecture organization.
  • Level 3: A partnership forms between technology and business organizations in order to assure that the use of SOA provides clear business responsiveness.
  • Level 4: Level 4 focuses on measuring and presenting these processes at the business level so as to provide continuous feedback on the performance and business impact of the processes implemented at Level 3.
  • Level 5: The SOA information systems becomes the "enterprise nervous system" and takes action automatically according to events occurring at the business level according to rules optimizing business goals.