Turn your SOA into a HOA (human oriented architecture)

Perhaps SOA could benefit from the free-form collaboration of Web 2.0 -- and breaking bread with a bean counter

In light of all the pushing to bring IT to closer to the business, Dana Gardner is proposing an experiment. That is, take an accountant -- or better yet, CFO -- to lunch, to see how much they understand service-oriented architecture, and use the occasion to sell them on the value of SOA.

Perhaps SOA could benefit from the free-form collaboration of Web 2.0 -- and breaking bread with a bean counter.

"Tell them how great IT is and what SOA can do in terms of long-term efficiency and lower total costs," Dana advised in the latest SOA BriefingsDirect podcast to be released. "Bring in some of the other megatrends, such as software as a service, virtualization, and data master management. It behooves us all to educate the accountants on why IT is important, because I think they are suffering from a lack of understanding."

"This is the crowd we need to work on. We keep talking about trying to convince the CEO and the CIO, and I think we need to get right down into the bean counters' frontal lobes on SOA."

In my last post, I talked about the concerns being voiced about bottom-up SOA approaches, and how things go just oh-so-much better when the folks in the C-level suites see the value in service-oriented approaches.

Ultimately, the way forward, as I also discussed in that last post, is governance. Without governance, there is no SOA. But maybe we don't want too much governance. I had the opportunity to join the panel in Dana's podcast panel to talk about the emerging relationship between Web 2.0 and SOA, and the governance of each.

Jim Kobelius says SOA activities can benefit from the collaboration Web 2.0 brings to the table. "When I think of governance, I often think about crack-the-whip, controls, and setting controls on how people interact and how policies are created," he said. "When I think about wikis, I think of the exact opposite. There are no controls. It’s basically a shared space to which everybody can post, everybody can overwrite, and everybody can erase everybody else’s comments."

Perhaps the SOA design-time activities need not be too restricted by crack-the-whip governance, Jim continued. "Wikis are a free-for-all as collaboration. It’s definitely got a very valid role in many environments, like open-source initiatives where they are very peer oriented. Everybody is an equal, even-steven, participant. There is a high emphasis on collaboration, design, reciprocity, and all of that. When I think about the whole SOA governance space, both design-time governance and run-time governance, I think of wiki as in the design-time governance side, where you have teams of designers or business analysts and IT people sitting around the virtual table, trying to hash out policies."

However, both Jim and Dana agreed that this open, collaborative process should not be open to anyone when it comes to SOA planning and management. Runtime SOA governance, in particular, "depends on clear-cut policies, designs, data definitions, and so forth that have been handed down by the policy gurus, and now are governing ongoing operations without ambiguity," Jim said. "In that case, you don’t necessarily want any Joe Blow to be able to overwrite the policies and the business rules that are guiding the ongoing monitoring, management control, or security of your SOA."

Still, as Jim pointed out, maybe Web 2.0 is paving the way to HOA, or Human Oriented Architecture. "It's giving human beings the tools to share what’s in their minds, to share their creativity with the big wide world," he said. "SOA, Service Oriented Architecture, is about sharing and reusing all matter of resources in a standardized way. HOA, the Web 2.0, is the most critical resource, and the most inexhaustible energy supply is human ingenuity and creativity."