IBM Makes a Game Out of SOA Education

IBM is putting a renewed focus on service-oriented architecture education, even offering a new 3-D game to help business analysts and others adapt to SOA.

ORLANDO, Fla.—IBM is trying novel ways to get folks interested in service-oriented architecture, including devising a three-dimensional game to help foster SOA skills in users.

Sandy Carter, vice president of SOA and Web services strategy at IBM, said IBM has produced an interactive SOA game called "Innov8: A BPM Simulator." "Innov8" is an interactive, 3-D educational game simulator designed to bridge the gap in understanding between IT teams and business leaders in an organization, Carter said. Carter spoke at IBMs Impact 2007 conference focused on SOA here.

Indeed, a recent study commissioned by IBM found that 56 percent of IBM customers said lack of skills is the leading inhibitor to SOA adoption. To address this skills shortage, IBM has introduced new tools and certification programs.

/zimages/5/28571.gifIBM lays out the importance of and its plans for SOA. Click here to read more.

"Innov8" is one such tool. The game is the result of an annual IBM SOA case study competition among graduate students at Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Carter said. The game, which is played with a joystick, is based on advanced, commercial gaming technologies and allows players to visualize how an SOA affects different parts of an organization, IBM officials said. Users can see business processes, identify bottlenecks and explore what if scenarios before the SOA is deployed, officials said.

Carter said IBM is hoping to facilitate the emergence of a class of IT workers with what the company refers to as "T-shaped" skills. An individual with T-shaped skills possesses both business skills and technical understanding, Carter said.

/zimages/5/73953.jpgIBM also is encouraging the adoption of a relatively new curriculum known as Service Science, which addresses the T-shaped skills, Carter said.

In addition, IBM is providing a virtual version of the Impact 2007 conference in Second Life. "Weve set up a virtual university on Second Life with content here at Impact," Carter said.

And, Carter said, IBM has an SOA Business Catalog of SOA assets for customers to use. There are currently 3,600 assets in the catalog, but Carter said that number will continue to grow.

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