Federal change mandate is sending many feds toward SOA

The need for change is sending many in federal IT back to SOA -- perhaps for good

Those of you who follow me on Twitter already know that I was at FOSE today, more of my immersion into all things federal recently. I sat on a panel discussing SOA and BPM, and how they all worked and played with the FEA (Federal Enterprise Architecture).

Basically, those in federal IT understand that change is coming and are looking to figure out approaches to altering IT. SOA is top on the list, with cloud computing making its way in there as well.

[ See what InfoWorld suggests for the new administration in "A high-tech agenda for President Obama" and "10 IT agenda items for the first U.S. CIO" ]

I was attempting to make clear during my panel discussion that SOA is not about change -- it's about creating an architecture that's able to change. Thus, were SOA much higher on the list several years ago, many federal agencies would not be running around looking to adjust IT to the change in mission, which is painful now. Instead, they would be leveraging the agility aspect of SOA to align IT quickly with the changing business and/or mission.

I suspect that SOA will be the battle cry of many federal agencies that are both looking to change with the demands of the new administration and have some extra money around now to make it happen.

The challenge will be to do SOA right and by the right people. In the past, too much emphasis was put on the technology, too little on the approach or the talent. That needs to be the other way around. Work from the talent, to the approach, and then the technology.

Moreover, the federal government continues to be a "closed market," and the larger contracts are owned and driven by the usual suspects. Perhaps it's time to break that pattern a bit and get some new thinking into the world of federal information management. There's no better time, now that people are accepting change, which is a good thing, but it's going to take some planning and whole lot of work. Let's get started.