Gartner: How to Unify Your SOA Roll-Out

Nick Gall, a Gartner Research analyst, says for best results enterprises should unify enterprise architecture with service-oriented architecture and business process management. Gall, who spoke at the Microsoft SOA and Business Process Conference 2009, said every enterprise will be doing SOA within 18 months whether they plan to or not.

REDMOND, Wash. -- For the most effective service-oriented architecture implementations, enterprises should unify enterprise architecture with SOA and business process management, so said Gartner Research analyst Nick Gall in a broad how-to discussion on SOA at the 2009 Microsoft SOA and Business Process Conference here.

Gall, who is a vice president at Gartner, spoke on "The Role of Enterprise Architecture in Shaping Business Process Management and SOA." He started off saying the reason for getting into SOA is change. He said the frequency and amplitude of business change is increasing, "And you're all going to be doing SOA in 18 months whether you plan to or not."

Meanwhile, Gall said SOA and BPM are typically not well-coordinated in the enterprise. He then got into definitions of the basic concepts. For instance, EA is the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communication and improving key principles and models that describe the enterprise's future state and enable its evolution.

As for SOA? SOA is an architectural approach to building systems, Gall said. It delivers two major categories of value. One is sharing or reuse, and the other is agility or the ability to change more rapidly. And this is done via two fundamental principles: interface abstraction and modularization, he said. Further, Gall said there are five principles of SOA design. A SOA is modular, distributable, clearly defined, swappable and shareable, he said.

And what is BPM, you ask? According to Gall, BPM refers to a set of management disciplines that accelerate effective business process improvement by blending incremental and transformative methods. BPM is a cultural change, he said. So if an organization is not willing to change the way it works then it should not set its expectations very high, he said. However, BPM's disciplines are largely technology-enabled, Gall said.

Gall maintains that SOA is better with BPM. "While you can establish an SOA, to build an SOA application you need business and process analysts to design and build the most effective 'close-to-the-business' applications," he said.

And conversely BPM is better with SOA, Gall said. "BPM alone is limited," he said. "Older, siloed applications are difficult to integrate with BPM." Yet, services represent the actions that processes coordinate and services ensure consistence across processes."

However, "where the magic happens" is in what Gall refers to as the Service Interface Center of Gravity or IFaPs, which is a reference to Identifiers, Formats and Protocols. (IFaPs). Identifiers are single versions of master data. Formats are metadata for transparency and discovery. And protocols are common information services to harmonize of manage results, Gall said.