IBM announced a pretty amazing line of SOA-related products today. Oddly, the news isn't making a huge splash in the trade press, so you may have missed it. But in my opinion, it's well worth reviewing and signals a significant shift in how IBM will market its SOA offering. (Hint: SOA's not just for IT eyes anymore.)
There were several announcements, bundled together, but to me, here's the key news:
Essentially, IBM's saying its tool will let managers decide whether the company's SOA is performing up to par with the industry average, according to News.com.
As vnunet.com puts it, the IBM dashboards will "allow firms to pull data out of their SOA systems and assess the state of their business."
The IBM tools are targeting end users, particularly business managers, and they're designed to let business managers analyze the efficiency of business processes. Managers now have a means of deciding whether their business processes -- and the services that conduct those processes -- are up-to-speed when compared to competitors.
One tool will also chart an analysis of how the current IT system impacts business agility.
This is a major shift in how SOA is marketed, in my opinion. Instead of appealing to IT leaders, IBM is taking its case straight to the business managers and end users -- and giving them the tools to see how SOA could impact their ability to compete.
In the News.com article, the general manager of global consulting services and SOA at IBM Global Business Services, Robert LeBlanc, notes that in the past, what drove SOA was primarily an interest in integration. Now, however, more clients start by asking IBM about streamlining existing processes, and to do that, IBM says you'll need SOA.
Sandy Carter, IBM's vice president of SOA and Websphere, told vnunet.com that IT is playing a role in this new focus on the business-impact of SOA.
Early on we were very much focused on service reuse, on cutting costs. Now we are seeing the impact on the business. [SOA] projects are looked at more from the business side. The IT guys are now coming to us asking how they can communicate the value that SOA can bring.
The SOA packages, geared for Websphere Business Services users, are designed for specific industries, which makes sense -- you wouldn't want to compare your processes to a generic standards. The offerings cover the banking, telecom operations, health care, and insurance property and casualty industries, according to the press release published on CNN Money. The News.com and vnunet.com articles provide the best overview of the new tools and services, but for a more detailed explanation of the new offerings, check out the press release.