It's Time for an IT Users Group Run by Users

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At its creation in 2007, the SOA Consortium (SOAC) said that it planned to go out of business in 2010. To me, the closed-end concept was refreshing. I am no fan of vendor-dominated groups of any type, be they designed to push so-called open standards down users' throats or the SOAC "let's consort" type.


Lately it has looked to me more and more like SOAC wants to stay in business. Sun became a sponsor for the first time in March, on April 14 HP upgraded from founder to sponsor, and in late April SOAC announced that the Savant practice within OSG Incorporated had joined as a sponsor. OSG was founded in 1992 as Object Systems Group, which is relevant because SOAC is managed by the Object Management Group (OMG). It makes no sense to me for these leading vendors to make such investments in marketing expense on a "closed-end operation" -- unless it's not really closing.


For the record, HP, Savant and SOAC say I'm wrong and that it still plans to dead-end itself in 24 months or so.


Savant says the finite time limit is a great idea. It also says on its Web site:

"While our approach is somewhat different than what is traditionally thought of as SOA (XML-based RPCs), our lightweight, agile adapters have proven themselves" as an alternative means to provide services.

Perhaps, as a Representational State Transfer (ReST)-based developer, Savant just doesn't want to leave the foxes in charge of the hen house.


And HP says:

"The benefit to us is interaction and involvement with large end-users of SOA technologies and methods... there is a very large and active end-user community that includes Avis, BOA, Fidelity and others."

But unfortunately, these dozen or so IT shops are dominated in SOAC by about 50 industry players.


In particular, what is the agenda of the big systems suppliers and why does this matter to IT? The SOA Consortium says its intention is "Redirecting the industry conversation to business-driven SOA." But ask yourself: Do IT managers and staffs really need vendors re-directing the conversation? Isn't that part of the time-honored IBM tradition (IBM is another SOAC sponsor) of going over IT's head and "selling to the board."


I'll take both suppliers at their word. And my history with the OMG goes back to Chris Stone's cubicle at Data General in 1989, when he founded the OMG, so I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude.


But isn't it time for an IT users groups run by users? Let me know what you think. Especially if you are a user member of the SOAC.