Are you ready for 'green SOA'?

The IT industry has been increasingly moving toward greener practices in order to cut costs and consumption, and adopting SOA is seen as the next step

All of a sudden, green is the "in" color. In 2007, the IT industry embraced the green datacenter concept. What followed was an avalanche of PR from vendor after vendor claiming that they were greener than their competitors. 

Although not yet a global phenomenon, the green data center movement is rampant in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. A corporate social conscience? No. A corporate economic conscience? Yes. From CIOs to purchasing managers, the belief that a green IT infrastructure reduces recurring expenses has become self-evident.

[ Keep up with all the latest in green IT with Ted Samson's Sustainable IT blog ]

Now, in 2008, we are about to take the next major corporate step in going green. No better architecture can be used as a foundation for this next step than SOA.

Based upon recent studies, the overall corporate adoption rate of SOA is 64 percent with the most important decision issues being business case justification and ROI. Couple this with the fact that 56 percent of corporate adopters cite lack of key process and architecture skills as implementation inhibitors.

What we have in 2008 with respect to SOA are basic business issues, not technology issues. In fact, today, over 70 percent of SOA adoption/implementation rationale is business driven, vs. 30 percent in 2006. Technology may never again be the driving force in the corporate decision process, but in SOA it will always be the implementation mechanism. Therefore, to correctly "green" the corporation we must "green" SOA.

If we look at a typical SOA framework we see that one of the key elements is the business process. Supporting these processes are a host of services that allow life-cycle control from inception to implementation to monitoring to optimization to governance.

Simplistically, green SOA allows us to blend green concepts subliminally and in a symbiotic manner into corporate business processes. This is a win-win for the corporation. Green SOA allows a corporation to minimize economic demand (such as rising cost for energy, raw materials, and waste disposal), satisfy customer and stakeholder demand (such as environmental, social, competitive, and market concerns) and compliance (such as regulatory requirements, global treaty enforcement, and legal constraints).

Over time there will be numerous approaches to applying green philosophies to SOA. Right now the thunder belongs to IBM. What started as a suggestion has become a major strategic and product initiative! To effectively green the corporation, IBM believes that one must address people, processes, assets, information, infrastructure, and communications/application connectivity.

No architecture changes were required by IBM to SOA. But additions to the concepts of policy and metrics were required to "green" SOA. IBM seized upon the business concepts of carbon emission management for policy and linked it to a metric called a KPI (key performance indicator) as a base for what it calls Green Sigma.

Classically, KPIs are financial and nonfinancial metrics used to help organizations define and measure progress toward organizational goals. Apply that concept to carbon management, and we green SOA.

IBM's Green Sigma is a five-step process that begins with 1) the definition of KPIs; 2) establishing a baseline for measurement and metering; 3) deploying a carbon management dashboard console; 4) process optimization; and 5) management/compliance. Carbon management is a dynamic real-time concept that utilizes dashboards to benchmark performance, measure, control, and optimize carbon KPIs and finally to track and account for carbon credits.

Otherwise known as green currency, carbon credits are about to become the CFO's hidden asset in a developing global carbon trading marketplace. Carbon credits can be defined as the currency metric for global carbon-emissions trading based upon the reduction of greenhouse emissions relative to a total annual emissions cap and market-determined monetary value through trading.

Credits then can be exchanged (for example, to finance carbon reduction/offset agreements between global trading partners), bought and/or sold on developing international markets at the prevailing market price.

Until now, the concept of carbon emissions management was limited to a paper and a pen rather than computers and networking. With the arrival of green SOA tools and concepts into the marketplace, corporations can begin to develop, implement, monitor, manage, and govern everything from green business processes to green IT infrastructures.

Not only will business costs decrease, but process improvements will occur through increased compliance and improved performance. Add the green "icing on the cake" through the asset monetization of carbon emission credits and no corporation or government can hesitate to become a jolly and prosperous Green Giant.

This story, "Are you ready for 'green SOA'?" was originally published by Network World.