Zen and the Art of SOA

Loraine Lawson

You don't go to an analyst to learn about Zen, because Zen isn't about theoretical learning. You go to someone who's made Zen a way of life, because Zen is about everyday, personal practice.


And that is precisely what's been missing from the service-oriented architecture discussion, according to Ron Schmelzer, managing partner at ZapThink: The voices of those who have learned by doing. The Zen, if you will, of SOA.


That's why last year, ZapThink started its Practical SOA conference series. The series is simply a collection of ordinary IT people whose companies have or are building SOAs. This, in and of itself, makes it unusual in a conference world filled with vendor-specific events or programs where analysts talk mostly about best practices and theory.


While vendors do speak at some of the conferences, they're restricted to discussing implementation-not giving a sales pitch, said Schmelzer.


In a recent interview with IT Business Edge, Schmelzer shared why he thought this is such a valuable approach:

"It's mastering that weird Zen, the yin and yang of enterprise architecture; that is the secret that companies haven't quite yet figured out. Our perspective is that you have to learn it from other enterprise architects. You can't really read about it, or you can, but you can't really understand enterprise architecture without doing it, because enterprise architecture is a way of being."

This year's conference series begins March 13, with a Practical SOA evening in Australia, followed by a Practical SOA conference in Newark, N.J., where the focus will be on finance, pharmaceutical firms, media, governance, quality and management. Practical SOA events are also planned for London in the UK and Las Vegas in the United States. You can find a complete listing online.


In other integration-related news this week:


Layer 7 Takes on IBM with Hardware ESB Offering. Network Computing published this article about Layer 7's new SecureSpan Mainframe SOA Gateway-an appliance that's used to service-enable legacy mainframe APIs. The article notes that it's an "ESB-like" hardware, a market domain that previously included only one product: IBM's WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance. The appliance will also compete with traditional ESB and vendors specializing in service-enablement, including Layer 7's partner, Software AG. Information-As-A-Service? Why not? ebizQ is offering a webinar next week on Information-As-A-Service (IAAS), a term defined by Forrester Research. Despite my annoyance at yet another as-a-service abbreviation, I find the idea intriguing and would like to subscribe to their newsletter. Forrester analyst Noel Yuhanna and Robert Eve, the VP of Marketing for Composite Software, will explain how IAAS technology works and what types of problems it can solve.


Here's a hint: It's used for business intelligence, dashboards and portals and helps with data integration. Joe McKendrick is moderator, so hopefully he'll be able to translate any hype for us. The event will be Tuesday, March 4, at 2 p.m. ET, and you'll need to pre-register, which requires you to sign up for a free Gold membership on eBizQ. IBM Targeting Healthcare Industry with SOA Strategy. Not long ago, IBM announced a "vertical" approach to SOA for the retail industry it called Retail Integration Framework (RIF). SOA consultant David Linthicum lambasted this "verticalization" of SOA in this InfoWorld post, saying:

"This is one of those things that I knew would come from the vendors eventually, but actually demonstrates a lack of understanding of the concept of SOA."

This recent announcement is a much smarter way to market to SOA to verticals. This time, IBM is partnering with nine business partners to create SOA-based solutions for healthcare providers, clinics and hospitals. It's a smart move, and well worth noting if you work in the healthcare sector.


Among the partners are an electric health records company, a document management firm, a clinical portal, and a health enterprise management firm. You can find a full list of the partners, along with an example of how IBM and one partner helped Catholic Healthcare West streamline its workflows, in the press release.


Healthcare Integration Appliance. Speaking of healthcare, Meddius, which specializes in integration appliances for the healthcare industry, recently released its Integration Router, which can process over 5.5 million HL7 messages per hour. The press release states integration appliances allow hospitals to integrate data without investing in a new software infrastructure.


New Offering Integrates GIS Data. If your company uses GIS (geographic information system) software, you might want to check out this announcement from ESRI. It's new ESRI ArcGIS software is designed to replace various unlinked software solutions with one system. It can be used to integrate information from legacy systems into one platform, where you can model, manage and map geographic information.


Need an SAP systems integrator? You might want to check out Performance Monitor's SAP Buyer's Guide, which the independent research firm is making available for free for a limited time only. Performance Monitor researched the leading SAP system integrators -- Accenture, BearingPoint, Capgemini, CSC, Deloitte, IBM and SAP Consulting -- by interviewing more than 800 business and IT pros over a three-year period.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 1, 2008 9:54 AM tom termini tom termini  says:
Yes, the application of Zen works with SOA. Read my blog, delightfully titled, Zen of SOA, and look for the eponymous book on Amazon. http://www.bluedog.net/weblog/termini/ Reply
Mar 2, 2008 9:30 AM John John  says:
Re: ESRI. Where does it say there's new software? This is the same old stuff. Reply
Mar 7, 2008 2:14 AM Loraine Lawson Loraine Lawson  says:
John - I think you're right about ESRI. Sorry about that. I must see two or more press releases a week "announcing" an old product. Usually, I figure it out, but this one fooled me. Reply

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