As SOA goes mainstream in the enterprise, its success may hinge on a crucial meeting of the minds -- a mashup of talent that can uncap a font of creative potential.
On one side of the mashup are architects and developers, who up to now have perhaps been designing point Web-services deployments or legacy systems wrappers. On the other side are business process modelers, who’ve been mapping out how your business really works and what it needs, often in isolation and with limited ability to act on their process insights.
Before enterprises deploy SOA on a large scale, experts say, getting these teams together in a disciplined planning exercise can unlock the business value that process modelers knew was there all along.
“I think the business process modelers were waiting for SOA to show up,” says Sean Rhody, a chief architect at the CSC Consulting Group. “Without being able to define services, they were always talking at a level that didn’t connect to the actual implementation at all.”
Before SOA, says Sandy Carter, IBM’s vice president of SOA and WebSphere strategy, “you could do all this wonderful mapping of processes, but the underlying technology didn’t
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And the payoff, says Forrester Research Vice President Randy Heffner, comes when the two groups work together to find business processes that share common services and prioritize the development of those services.
“It’s capturing business capability as reusable digital services, in a way that can be connected to any business process,” Heffner explains.
Across a range of enterprises, IT is laying the groundwork for SOA deployments that will have a transformative effect on IT, rolling out services that various applications can share and establishing governance rule for service design and interconnect. Yet woe to those who ignore business process planning and proceed directly to architectural design.
“If you don’t factor in your business process, you really don’t have an SOA,” says Tim Vibbert, senior systems engineer at Lockheed Martin.
Lessons from the front
What does it take to model processes successfully in an SOA context? InfoWorld interviewed consultants, analysts, and enterprise architects and got an earful from those on the front lines, among them Wachovia vice president Rohn Griggs.
“We’re just now scratching the surface around SOA,” says Griggs, who oversees workflow, imaging, and integration technology in the company’s business process modeling “center of excellence,” a group that provides enterprise-wide ground rules and guidance.
Griggs explains that although the company started from the bottom up, exposing legacy apps as Web services, it’s now trying to orchestrate those services around business processes such as loan origination.