Bridging the Gap Between IT's SOA and Business' BPM

Loraine Lawson

You're probably sick of hearing about the whole SOA/BPM thing. I know I am.

Unfortunately, just because we're tired of it doesn't mean it's resolved.

The bottom line is that business people love BPM. And IT loves SOA. And each can help the other.

But we're a long way from reaching a consensus about BPM and SOA, as this Redmond Developer points out.

This isn't a feature article so much as a news piece covering Tony Baer's presentation, "BPMs are from Venus -- SOAs are from Mars," given at the BPM Think Tank 2007. Baer works for OnStrategies, a market strategy and analysis firm.

Before I go any farther, let me say that neither Baer nor the article specify whether Business Process Management means BPM the technology or BPM the management tactic. I suspect it means the technology, given the context of BPM in the article, but since one is designed to support the other, perhaps it means a bit of both.

Now that we have that out of the way -- here's why this article is worth reading, even if you feel like you're about to overdose on SOA/BPM discussions.

  1. Bauer doesn't take up the question of whether BPM or SOA work together. Obviously, if business uses BPM and IT uses SOA, they're going to have to co-exist, so instead, he looks beyond that debate. This brings me to reason number 2...
  2. Bauer spends most of the article discussing the conversation disconnect between SOA advocates and BPM aficionados. Part of this is a language problem, but there are also real conflicts in the work -- including a methodology break.
  3. He talks about the next big issue that IT and businesses will need to resolve: How to add the workflow of real, live people to to BPEL, through two proposed OASIS specs: BPEL4People and WS-HumanTask. IT is pushing this, but the business side is resistant, seeing it "as reinforcing the old divisions," according to the article.
  4. There's a great break-down on what roles Bauer believes BPM, BPEL and WS-HumanTask will play as SOA evolves.

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