IBM's Zollar: SOA, Web 2.0 drive IT 'industrialization'

Only 'industrialized' IT operations will be able to handle the coming SOA and Web 2.0 loads
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Last week, I posted some countervailing views on the topic of software industrialization. Some say it represents the inevitable future of IT operations and software development; others say software needs to have elements of craft, since it's so highly specialized.

'Industrialized' IT needed to handle the coming SOA and Web 2.0 loads

It can be argued that application and infrastructure design need to remain more of a specialized craft, while deployment and management can be more highly automated. One reader, CobraA1, pointed out in response to the post that "developers design software. What we do is more like creating a blueprint, which as far as I know isn't an automated process, even in the automobile industry.... developers don't take care of production. The tools we use are like a drafting board, not like a bunch of robots in a factory."

On the IT-industrialization-is-inevitable side is IBM, and I was finally able to obtain a transcript of Tivoli GM Al Zollar's speech at Pulse 2008, in which he talked about where we are on the IT industrialization continuum, and the inevitable connection to SOA.

It can be argued that SOA itself is a manifestation of IT industrialization, since the methodology promotes the mass production and mass consumption of reusable services, versus custom-crafted applications. Zollar makes the point that SOA, along with Web 2.0 methodologies, are taxing the IT operations expected to support these new approaches, and that the operations themselves need to be "industrialized."

Along with the classic Henry Ford example, Zollar touched upon other industries that changed their dynamics and enabled mass production and consumption of their commodities -- electric utilities and telecommunications. While these two sectors are pretty far along on the industrialization curve, IT industrialization has only begun:

"When viewed in the same historical perspective, best practices like ITIL, Lean Sigma, CoBIT, and others are in their infancy. Indeed, IT organizations have automated silo-ed tasks and functions, and are beginning to adopt best practices... But there is still much work to be done to get beyond silo management to industrialized operations."

Those cursed silos are holding us back again! Of course, SOA -- and now Web 2.0 approaches -- are breaking down those silos, and, in the process, making it easier and more cost-effective to mass-produce software for the masses. As Zollar describes it:

"...SOA and Web 2.0 technologies are not only pushing the limits of service velocity, in terms of time to market, they are driving the need for the next generation of industrialization – across ALL operational boundaries. Business processes and services delivered on SOA allow for greater agility, and the flexibility to respond to changing business needs. They also underpin many of the telecommunications, banking, and e-commerce services we rely on every day. Web 2.0 is quickly facilitating greater collaboration and sharing of ideas, opinions and experiences between peers, across business, and between business and consumer. Together these and other new technologies will transform the way we do business."

The challenge is that while SOA and Web 2.0 are accelerating the mass production and consumption of software, IT teams are still trying to keep up on a piecemeal, if not manual basis. This calls for deeper automation, or industrialization, of the operations behind the applications, Zollar said. "But while SOA and Web 2.0 are accelerating time to market for these new and exciting services and enabling new business models, they are also driving greater levels of abstraction and complexity for IT operations teams that must manage and assure these services – without the benefit of industrialized operations."

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