SOA, designed for turbulent times

Up or down economy, time for SOA to prove its mettle

I just had the honor of keynoting the SOA Symposium going on this week in Amsterdam, which has brought together more than 500 attendees representing the cream of organizations from across western Europe.

Up or down economy, time for SOA to prove its mettle

The purpose of my keynote was to help launch Thomas Erl's latest work, SOA Design Patterns, which documents design patterns for 85 essential services that make up most SOA efforts.

Thomas, who also was the organizer of the symposium, is one of the most prolific SOA authors on the planet. His book represents a coming of age for SOA, which he and many others say has now matured to a point in which it underpins much, if not most, enterprise architecture planning. As Thomas said in his keynote commencing the conference, the establishment of proven practices "are a true sign of SOA maturity."

"We now know what it takes to build individual services," he said. "We need to be empowered to build service-oriented solutions in the right way." There's no question that SOA is part of most enterprises, he said, urging vendors to stick with standards to avoid derailing the progress that has been made. At enterprises, SOA has "set the basis for unlimited innovation... it never ceases to surprise me how much they innovate."

And what a time for SOA to mature. The current turmoil in the economy provided a backdrop for the urgency to service-orient and do it right, Thomas, as well as other speakers, emphasized. "I cannot think of a better time for SOA to have matured than now," Thomas Erl pointed out. "The one thing that threatens the survival of business is change... its a matter of survival that they see stability and the ability to adapt. It all comes down to how your build your services -- you have an opportunity to do it right." SOA provides the flexibility to make positive change possible as businesses forge through a messy economy.

Whether the economy is sizzling or in the tank, organizations will always be looking for ways to do things faster and better, or perhaps in a completely different way than ever imagined.

Thomas's address was followed with a keynote by IBM's Sandy Carter, who also addressed the theme of business survival -- and thriving -- during times of great change and upheaval. She advocated that along with Key Performance Indicators, companies establish "Key Agility Indicators" that track the organization's ability to adapt and change. She noted that IBM has been tracking its own KAIs, which includes SOA-based initiatives that enabled the computer giant to add new suppliers in its supply chain in a matter of three hours -- a process that once lasted three weeks.