26th, 2006: User and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
Architecture (SOA) is the next hype created by IT-professionals. Everything
is to be a service, nowadays. A service is usually some IT-thing that
can be used more then once, whether it is hardware, software or even
a business process.
The notion of service
comes close to what we called and object in the 90's of the last century:
a "thing" encapsulating (programming) code and data
with a single entry and exit point. It is also close to what we call
an application (software with certain functionality), a component
(piece of software that can be bought), even a subroutine or
Anno 2006 there
are many discussions by IT-professionals on services. The ones I saw
are very detailed and very very technical. Middleware, brokers, categories
of applications, hardware services etc. are the subject of many discussions.
From the point
of view of the using organisation all these discussions are incomprehensible.
This is logical, because those people are usually not technical IT-professional
and the content of these discussions is irrelevant to them. The problem
is they are affected by it, and their questions for a better support
by the IT-infrastructure are not answered because of it.
For users the quality
of the support of their IT-infrastructure is usually important. They
have to do their job, and if the support is of high quality they can
work much better then when the quality is low. Also: they pay for this
support. The cost today is usually a multiple of 1000 dollar/euro per
workplace and they really would like value for money.
The term service
could make the life of these users easier. Not really in the sense the
support will be better, but in the sense it will become easier to measure
the performance of the IT-infrastructure. Per service one can agree
upon a service level, and one can talk about a price such a service
level would cost (to have the service, to maintain and support it
etc.) in as Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Users are not really
interested in the cost and time it takes to create services. Whether
software and hardware can be re-used or put in the hands of external
service providers is almost irrelevant for them. They want the right
quality of service at the lowest price.
Now, there is a
very strange phenomenon in this area. In all the years we have been
working with and supported by IT we have always been talking about systems,
services, applications etc: software. This is strange, because no user
is really interested in software, Users need the right quality information
at the right place and at the right time. No matter what kind of service
takes care of this. For them the information is usually what they want,
not really the service and the IT professionals make them pay for the
services. At the beginning of this year, 2006,I heard a high-level IT-specialists
sigh organisations have much to much functionality in their services
and application, and at the same time they miss a lot of functionality
that is not there (yet). Time for a real shift in our IT paradigm?
The next step for
IT-professionals is to get Service Orientation to the organisation itself.
These people are trying to convince management they ought to reorganise
and create the smallest possible working units in the organisation.
Also services, and modelled in the same way as the IT is modelled where
customer and supplier relations are leading and the use of IT is the
real critical success factor. The sales pitch is to make organisations
transparant (see and know what is done where and by whom) an
agile (optimal flexibility to be able to change whatever happens).
And to enable outsourcing of these services to IT-suppliers (business
process outsourcing BPO).
- I do not believe
IT-professionals are capable to reorganise organisations because they
are not business specialists. Even if these vendors say they work
together with specialists like psychologists, culture experts etc.
The problem is in the angle of incidence; IT is never the right angle
to do this work.
- I do not believe
IT will make organisations agile when you are making IT the main issue.
It should be the business that takes a leading role in these kinds
of activities, not IT. And in discussion with IT-specialists practice
shows usually synergy can be found between the two, so better solutions
can be found on both sides.
- There is hardly
any proof in the practices of SOA to indicate that re-use is a real
advantage for an organisation, as SOA vendors suggest. This is also
true for the other advantages SOA should deliver.
- (more is going
to be provided, soon).
The next term IT-professionals
are putting on the marketplace is Service Oriented
Enterprise (SOE). It seems to become the acronym for
reorganising organisations based on services. As I said before: be very
careful. Practice shows no results yet, and there are a number of reasons
why why warnings should be given.