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SOA: less talk, more action?

If IBM's latest conference is any indication, SOA is a given, and talk is shifting to applying service-oriented principles to business process management and inter-enterprise engagements.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

My pal Tony Baer has a way of hitting the proverbial nail on the proverbial head.

As we move to service orientation, BPM and cloud are next frontiers

In a guest post over at Dana Gardner's site, he points out that SOA is everywhere you want to be, even though there's less and less mention of it. At least the vendors aren't mentioning it as frequently.

Gartner says SOA has reached the "plateau of productivity," the part of the hype curve where the roller-coaster ride is over, and a technology or practice gets embedded into everyday operations.

As I've said, it's the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-make-it-all-work stage.

Tony observed what I observed this week at IBM Impact -- that the event is no longer called "Impact SOA" as it had been the previous two years.

Did the focus shift to cloud computing, as one would predictably think it would this year?  A bit, but I saw a very heavy focus on business process management (BPM) at the event.  SOA was the rationale for the event, now "the focus is about the stack that SOA enables; and more and more, about the composite business applications that IBM’s SOA stack enables."

Business process management elevates service creation and deployment to the place where it's supposed to be -- enabling the assembly of technology assets to map to ever-evolving business requirements.

Still, many see cloud computing as the next big thing, the final stage of the evolution to loosely coupled businesses. It seems many vendors have been engaging in a practice we call "cloud washing," in which all their "SOA-enabling" offerings have magically been transformed into "cloud-enabling" offerings. (Larry Dignan also posts some insights into vendors' cloud washing efforts.)

It's a natural evolution. Just as we don't have operating system events anymore (remember UnixExpo?). Nobody gets excited about Web computing, because everyone does it in their sleep. Likewise, while there are still plenty of challenges, SOA is becoming the way things are done in enterprises and by vendors.

And the beat goes on...

For a very good and exhaustive rundown on various definitions of BPM, as well as its relationship with SOA, check out this new post by Kieth Swenson.

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