Tag Archives: Information-As-A-Service
Calling All Architects – Get Engaged in THE Most Important Discussion on Data Services and Data Integration
Do you believe that a solid and well thought through data architecture for efficiently accessing, integrating and processing data is foundational to maximizing business value? Do you want to hear from your peers in the industry, about how they are solving data integration challenges such as speeding-up time to delivery of data, data quality and infrastructure complexity?
If yes, would you like to join the discussion on a data architecture that can help composite applications and portals to efficiently leverage timely, trustworthy and relevant data in an SOA? Or, an architecture that can complement existing data architecture to ensure that business intelligence reports can quickly leverage data that is not in the data warehouse?
In my previous post To Successfully Service-Orient, Data-Orient First!, I shared the input I received from architects and IT managers, to serve as a handy check-list for ensuring a solid foundation for success in service-oriented infrastructures.
The following are the data-orientation capabilities they recommended as a first step in successfully service-orienting an infrastructure:
- Easy access of all relevant data, including new or rapidly changing data sources
- Seamless processing of data as batch, change data capture or real-time, including handling large volumes of large data sets
- Proactive identification and resolution of data inaccuracies
- Application of complex data transformations on the data
- Delivery of data, exactly when it is needed, as a standards-based data service
Before I start on this extremely polarizing topic, I really want to ask the question – do you want your SOA to be ineffective or die before it has a chance to live?
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, SOA does have a significantly big “blind spot,” which so often gets ignored due to the sheer size of the vehicle you are riding in – which I define as – the complexity of your enterprise infrastructure, the various avatars or stakeholders that are directly or indirectly impacted by integration challenges, departmental divides and ownership issues, debates around modernization, and of course, budget, time and resources.
Hopefully you answered the question with an emphatic NO!
With so much talk out there about how SOA is being affected by the downturn, a recent article by David Linthicum seems to point in the direction of pragmatic optimism.
In a column entitled Why the Downturn is Good for SOA from a recent issue of SOAWorld Magazine, Dave says that “as budgets contract and SOA teams downsize, you’d think that SOA projects would be all doom and gloom and lacking in productivity. However, the opposite seems to be occurring, at least inside my client base.” This is encouraging coming from an SOA expert, so let’s see what else he had to say.
Before we can have lengthy discussions around whether SOA is dead, or SOA is alive and kicking, I thought that it would serve us all well, including myself, to get to a generally agreed upon definition of what exactly we are talking about – what is Service-Oriented Architecture or SOA?
According to Wikipedia, “service-oriented architecture (SOA) provides methods for systems development and integration where systems group functionality around business processes and package these as interoperable services.”
This sounds like a definition right out of a technical book, while SOA’s biggest claim to fame was based on a more business-like perspective which is its promise of agility achieved through the alignment of business and IT. Let’s see if we can dig up some real-world observations around the current state of SOA.
If you have been following the blog circles lately, there is a big buzz about SOA being dead. It all started with a recent blog post by Anne Thomas Manes in which she says “although the word ‘SOA’ is dead, the requirement for service-oriented architecture is stronger than ever.”
SOA at its very core is simply an architectural approach and not a technology stack nor a vendor-recommended product or platform. As Anne says, “they missed the important stuff: architecture and services.”
As I have always maintained, an SOA implementation can be as simple as a few business services that wrap business or application logic, and in its most complex form it can be an entire ecosystem of technologies selected based on thoroughly analyzing needs and that most importantly support service-orientation principles. (more…)
Data is FOUNDATIONAL to SOA! This seemed to be the main message at the recently concluded SOAWorld Conference & Expo in San Jose. I heard this message being articulated in various ways at the sessions, the power panels, on the expo floor as well as from other attendees.
But, the best articlulation of this message came from industry expert David Linthicum. I was lucky to get out of my customer meetings in time to make it to Dave’s keynote address. I tried to capture some of Dave’s thoughts and recommendations around how to win with SOA the first time:
- Understand that SOA is something you do and not BUY
- Begin with architecture and not the technology
- Focus on the business need and identify all the ROI aspects upfront
- ROI with SOA is very strategic – think a year, not one or two months
- Understand the information management requirements and architecture
- Figure out how to get a single definition of CUSTOMER, SALE or PRODUCT
- Bind the information into the processes you have
In response to a question I asked Dave during his keynote about how he saw information architectures play in the overall SOA picture, he said that “DATA IS ABSOLUTELY FOUNDATIONAL TO SOA.” He went on to elaborate that if a company designs its SOA without thinking about its information architecture, the company will fail to reap the benefits of SOA. He also noted that the typical problem is that different teams own the traditional SOA pieces and data, making things even more difficult to architect and implement the SOA correctly the first time.
Based on the various customer interactions I have been having, I fully concur with Dave. As a customer recently shared with me, they wished that they had started their SOA journey with a solid information-centric foundation that used sophisticated data services to serve up timely and accurate information to the various components in their SOA.
What do you think? Did you attend the conference, and if so, what were your observations?
In the post “SOA’s Last Mile Part III: How to Address SOA’s Hidden Data-Centric Pitfalls Effectively,” David Lyle spoke about some high-level approaches to handling the data-centric pitfalls in an SOA.
I would like to introduce you to the solution…what I call data services, a flexible and cost-effective technology that can be the cornerstone of an SOA and EIM strategy by simplifying the complexity of both integrating diverse enterprise data that exists in individual silos as well as delivering a single, accurate and consistent view of all enterprise information, at the speed of business.
In one of my earlier posts I discussed the need for a sophisticated data services-driven technology serving as the foundation for SOA and BPM.
“Data and processes are intertwined. It will fundamentally change the way organizations think about your roles, and your roles are going to need to evolve”.
At this year’s Data Management Association (DAMA) International Symposium,
Michael is quoted saying that:
“In this world there’s a very loosely coupled user interface from the assembled services that in turn share access to data. SOA exposes data issues to more people, places and processes, and what I tell companies is that without a focus on information management and meta data management they’re going to fail.”
It is in speaking to numerous customers, prospects and technologists that I had gathered that without accurate, consistent and timely information, SOA and BPM deployments will face serious information-centric hurdles, affecting the cost-effectiveness and success of the project. As we move towards more agile architectures, I believe that we need to grow typical process-centric approaches to include information centricity as well.
As Michael states:
“Where we are going is beyond the first generation of BPM and SOA [that is process-centric],” he said, “to the next generation of SOA that is information-centric.”
Observe that the key word here is “information-centric.” Reading such statements from Michael and many others definitely validates the strategy I have been defining for building out an effective IT infrastructure that can benefit from the flexibility of a services and process-driven approach, in the data integration layer. Simply wrapping data access with a web service does not qualify as a sophisticated data service and hence, stringing together such simple services with a BPM tool also does not guarantee agility.
As discussed in Services to Orient your Enterprise Data Layer, Joe McKendrick is of the opinion that neither SOA nor enterprise-application integration alone can effectively handle the enterprise data layer. However, data services delivered within an SOA framework can create a data-abstraction layer to address the complexities seen across enterprise data environments.
I have always said that without serving up good quality, consistent and timely information as a data service or a comprehensive data service built using a sophisticated data integration platform, SOA and BPM deployments will not be able to deliver on their promise of agility.
What are your experiences? What kind of information-centric issues have you run into in your service-oriented deployments? Is inaccurate, stale and inconsistent information passing through your IT infrastructure holding you back?
In my previous post I made a statement that SOA and BPM overlooked the complexity of integrating fragmented enterprise data. As I looked around me across the vast expanse of the World Wide Web, I ran into someone else who says it exactly like it is – Michael Dortch.
- “Need the First: The ability to base every business action, decision, and process on the most accurate, consistent, secure, and timely information available, without fail.
- Need the Second: The ability to answer the “Journalism 101” questions about that information – who’s using what, when, where, why, and how – accurately and completely, on demand at any time.”
He goes on to say that “Processes developed, enforced or revised based on inaccurate, inconsistent, or just plain wrong information are opportunities to make what we called sardonically in my young analyst days ‘career-limiting decisions.’”
So, as I have been saying, when it comes to leveraging the power of paradigms such as SOA and BPM, it does come down to accuracy, consistency and timeliness after all.
What do you think?