If IBM is right, then service-oriented architectures (SOA) will catch on and catch on big. While the company is not alone in championing SOA, it is now putting serious money behind the talk, and is opening two SOA centres with the promise of more to come by July this year.
The two centres will be in Dubai and La Gaude, France, the company said in a statement issued on Monday, with six more to follow, scattered through Asia, North and South America and central Europe. According to Computerworld, two are to be built in China, one in Romania or the Czech Republic and one in Australia.
IBM says that the centres are being built because of "the growing demand for skills needed to solve customer business problems using SOA".
According to IBM, a large part of the remit of the new SOA Leadership Centres is to spread the word on SOA. Another is simply to give guidance to the many companies that have already grasped it and want the tools and, especially, the expertise that they need to draw on to be able implement SOA.
One key challenge is to change mindsets within organisations. SOA is not an architecture in the traditional IT sense but more a way of looking at IT and the organisation as a whole, especially how IT effects the organisation, the people who work in it and the wider environment around it.
Because of this, it has been difficult for the IT industry to get people to understand SOA, but that is changing as more and more companies implement SOA ideas. The basic concept is simple enough: it is a way for organisations to better manage the IT systems they already have and to build on them using components that can then be re-used and implemented elsewhere. Many businesses have found the emphasis on efficiency appealing.
The IBM SOA centres will be staffed by IBM experts who will focus on three areas: education and training; implementation support; and SOA exhibitions and demonstrations.
"Opening these centres is a direct response to what our customers are demanding," said Jason Weisser, IBM's vice president for SOA. "IBM has helped thousands of early SOA adopters successfully solve some of today's most challenging business problems using SOA."
IBM will be partnering with local universities, Weisser said, with the goal "of building SOA skills in the emerging workforce in these key markets". With that in mind, centres will offer training and instruction from "leading SOA experts", as well as certification and joint education programmes with universities.