There's a lot of discussion over which should come first, business process management or SOA. Certainly, the two are complementary. The question is, should you start with BPM or SOA?
It seems like a straightforward question with a straightforward answer: Either SOA or BPM, which is it? But without fail, the answer seems to be C: It doesn't matter, but here's how SOA and BPM work together.
This week, Michael Stamback of BEA asked the question again on his Dev2Dev blog. Stamback attended the Gartner Application Architecture, Development, and Integration show last week, where he heard Gartner analyst Paolo Malinverno give a presentation on BPM and SOA. Malinverno pointed out that the goal of BPM and SOA is to increase enterprise agility and, while you can achieve some success with either, the real results come from using them together.
Okay, point taken: SOA and BPM go great together. That still doesn't answer the question - if you have to start with one or the other, which should come first. And apparently, someone else noticed this, because Stamback reports that an attendee used the Q&A to ask Malinverno point-blank which should come first.
Daringly, Stamback's blog post steps out and tries to offer some guidelines. It's unclear whether he's relating what Malinverno said or his own thoughts, but who cares? The point is, someone's finally offering an opinion.
According to the post, the answer depends on - duh - the business goals. If your organization wants to deal with human-centric processes, start with BPM. But if you're looking to share business services for new business needs, consider starting with SOA.
I recommend you check out his full post, since he also goes into some detail about the consequences of using one without the other and the payoffs of deploying both.
Stamback's blog post was actually one of the few items I saw about last week's Gartner conference, which surprised me since SOA was a big focus of that event. Perhaps the attendees were too busy enjoying Nashville to post much during the conference.
Dave Linthicum, who writes the Real World SOA blog, did manage to write a few posts while at the conference. I particularly liked his discussion on SOA and ROI, in which he notes that reuse is a useless financial justification for SOA. He offers three alternative metrics for defining SOA's value.
He also put together a podcast titled, "Notes from the Gartner Show, and is reuse a key value for SOA?"