IBM Puts on SOA Game Face

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Despite the intense marketing buzz surrounding service-oriented architecture, it turns out that lots of business types may not even understand what the heck it is.


So what's a company like IBM, which is crafting much of its business strategy around broad enterprise buy-in of SOA, to do?


Big Blue went with a 3D video game -- an unconventional strategy that is beginning to look more conventional all the time, thanks to Sun's virtual office and other such concepts that are becoming reality.


The game, called Innov8 (rad, man), begins with instructions from a virtual CEO on how to carry out several business tasks, including understanding and improving a business process. A joystick helps players navigate around the virtual office, and they can chat up co-workers. They are scored on how well they did at the end.


This is relevant to SOA because process improvement is a logical starting point for most SOA efforts, many experts agree.


Sandy Carter, IBM's SOA guru, says the game should be available in September. Big Blue wants to offer versions of Innov8 in online environments like Second Life to encourage folks to share scores and compete with others. (Maybe an online tourney pitting Microsoft vs. Google? We can dream, can't we?)


IBM's approach is advocated by Edward Castronova, who says that companies can certainly put process improvement concepts learned in a virtual environment to work in the real world. It's also a smart way to capture the interest of younger employees, some of whom probably spent the majority of their childhoods parked in front of a Playstation.