Starting SOA from the business on down

National City is pretty typical of older banks attempting to modernize their infrastructure, and they are leveraging SOA to make that happen

I thought the presentations were great yesterday at the SOA Executive Forum. Good case studies. The most impressive was "Designing Successful SOA by Starting with the Business" by Joe McCartin, senior vice president and chief information officer at the National City Corp. I thought that Joe brought an executive perspective to SOA, and had a good grounding in the issues.

National City is pretty typical of older banks that are attempting to modernize their infrastructure and are leveraging SOA to make that happen. Indeed, they put an aggressive plan in place morphing the IT infrastructure over time, leveraging SOA concepts and best practices. Joe was very open about the people issues he had to address, as well as the continued challenge of governance.

One of the things that made me a bit wary, however, was the fact that they name certain technologies as "strategic technology assets" and push those technologies from project to project. I understand the issues there: they already had made the investment and they have people trained to leverage that technology solution, thus it's just more cost effective to leverage it.

While it seemed to work for National City, I suspect there are time when that strategic technology asset is not a good fit. Also, there are times when the architectural control board is incorrect. The policy was created by this "architectural control board," which would be another point of concern for me. However, you can't argue with success. It seems to be working for them based on Joe's presentation.

Central to the success was their ability to address the people and politics around the technology infrastructure, and put some productive governance processes in place. The technology is easy…it always is.