A Roadmap for a More Data-centric Enterprise

Loraine Lawson

One of the more puzzling things I encountered when I first started writing this blog was the question of how data fit in with service-oriented architecture (SOA). It took a while to sort out, but the answer was that it really didn't. It's not so much that SOA couldn't work for data, but more that no one had really considered the question.

Or, as Robin Bloor, word wit, IT analyst and co-founder of The Bloor Group, put it recently:

Data was the red-headed step-child that the family just didn't care about much. SOA never cared about data. It cared so little about data that none of the SOA vendors that leapt onto the SOA bandwagon wrote a single line of code to enable data integration within an SOA. There was nothing; no data layer and no real concept of data or information services. Nothing at all.

Then data services, data federation and such came along and data started getting its due.

Still, when it comes to data, IT is a bit in the "Dark Ages" of 1980 and 1990. Data and applications are dealt with separately, both architecturally and departmentally.

Experts are starting to rethink this approach, with many, including Bloor, advocating for an overarching information architecture. Last month, The Bloor Group launched a research program to help define an architectural model for this approach.

As a result, Bloor recently released its "Information-Oriented Architecture" as a diagram, which Bloor shared this week on Pervasive's blog. It shows six key and equal groupings that create the corporate network: software development tools, data management, middleware, applications-shown as BI apps. But Bloor explains elsewhere that it's other applications as well: a branch that includes service management, presentation services, unified or simple communications and operational systems, as well as the cloud. These components could be loosely coupled-just as with SOA, Bloor explains.

If that sounds overly formal and useless to you, I understand. "Reference architect" just reeks of something that's going to make your eyes glaze over. But Bloor points out there are two very practical uses for these types of diagrams: First, it gives you a simple inventory of components and second, it's a strategic map you can use to build and refine your BI architecture.

There's a roundtable discussion on the Information-Oriented Architecture scheduled today, March 20, at 4 p.m. ET. It will include Bloor, as well as BI Research President and Founder Colin White, Bloor Group CEO Eric Kavanagh, Talend VP of Marketing Yves de Montcheuil, and Suresh Chandrasekaran, senior VP of North America at Denodo Technologies. It's actually a continuation of a March 23 roundtable, which you can find archived at the Virtual Circle.


The second webinar will also be archived there, if you can't make it today.

In a similar vein, you might want to check out the argument for a data-centric architecture. This is another name for the approach Bloor's discussing-in fact, you'll note the piece is written by David Norfolk, the practice leader of development and governance for Bloor Research. It explores why the application-centric approach to IT is no longer useful and looks at some of the more technical aspects of shifting to a data-centric world.

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