Sunday, July 22, 2007

Applying SOA to business, not IT

SOA is getting enough attention these vendors and clients...

Recently one of my ex-colleagues, a fellow architect, surprised me by throwing the idea of applying SOA to a real business context and not IT systems. Sounds strange!?. Not really!

SOA principles are mainly applied to IT systems to make it more structured and be agile.

How about applying the same principles to the real business?. The business organization, business processes and services offered by the business...

My colleague was quoting the example of service-orienting the IT services organization. By and large, all IT services are grown to an extent where their sheer portfolio of services (e.g. application development and maintenance, infrastructure management) themselves have become an independent organization within the bigger organization. Each Line-Of-Business within the IT services organization has become siloed, powerful, bureaucratic and rigid. Introducing any change in the respective LOB or composing/creating a new service by mixing/matching with another LOB has become a nightmare!. Its hard to believe!. But its the truth...Its increasingly becoming difficult to orchestrate services within the one and the same organization though they all belong to the same parent. But, the irony is, all such IT services/consulting organization do enough cross-selling and up-selling and claim to be the one stop shop for all services.

So, How do we solve the problem?...We can look at what SAP consulting does...It has defined productized services for several of their service offerings by implementing standardized tools, methodologies, and frameworks and trainings for its own consultants across the globe. So, when a new business comes from the client, SAP consulting nicely distributes the work across the globe and orchestrates and gets it done. All becomes possible because its services/offerings are industrialised.

I can visualize a 'Enterprise-level Global Service Bus' that is running within such an organization, where each LOB is seamlessly integrated and presents their services...It feels good to imagine such a nice-and-beautiful system. But its indeed looks feasible!.

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