SOA Gets a Boost

WebMethods and ZapThink offer an online educational resource to promote service-oriented architecture mastery, while a group of industry leaders form the SOA Consortium to promote greater adoption of SOA.

NEW YORK—WebMethods and ZapThink have partnered to offer educational services for IT staff looking to become proficient in service-oriented architecture.

ZapThink, based in Baltimore, and WebMethods, based in Fairfax, Va., have banded together to launch the SOA Master Class Online , a comprehensive educational resource that is designed to foster mastery of SOA concepts, techniques and skills. Miko Matsumura, vice president of SOA products at WebMethods, said at the Web Services on Wall Street conference here that the SOA Master Class Online provides users with a formalized curriculum for advancing both their SOA knowledge and experience, as well as helping them to meet the skills shortage in the SOA space.

The online resource also will serve as a community for sharing best practices and collective problem solving, said Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink.

Indeed, in a recent report entitled "The SOA Forecast for 2007," ZapThink said "a dire prediction for 2007 is that there simply wont be enough qualified and SOA experienced enterprise architects around …. [I]t might just be that the biggest force gating widespread adoption of SOA is not the technical complexity of SOA projects (one can actually say that the technology part is relatively trivial), but rather the organizational, architectural, and skill gap that most companies have in making this architectural change a reality."

The SOA Master Class Online can be found at Among the contributors to the resource are SOA experts David Linthicum of the Linthicum Group and Neil Ward-Dutton of Macehiter Ward-Dutton, Schmelzer said.

"All too often, IT personnel spend their time working in the trenches and are unable to see the big picture of how IT meets the changing needs of the business," said Jason Bloomberg, a ZapThink analyst. "Thats the key to good enterprise architecture and effective SOA—having the proper perspective to drive a better, more agile relationship between business and IT."

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about ZapThinks efforts to address the SOA skills shortage.

The SOA Master Class Online site includes Webinars and video content, syndicated blogs and discussion forums, and interaction with SOA masters. And every topic on the site has integrated functions such as social bookmarking, RSS feeds and an online SOA glossary. Moreover, the curriculum includes SOA Foundation and SOA Governance.

"SOA isnt a specific product, but rather, a highly-disciplined approach to improving corporate and IT agility," Matsumura said in a statement. "As such, it cant be bought; rather, SOA needs to be learned. "This reality is creating a real shortage of experienced, knowledgeable architects capable of driving SOA success within their organization. SOA Master Class Online seeks to address this situation with targeted resources for rapidly closing the knowledge gap that currently exists."

Meanwhile, on Feb. 12, a group of industry leaders including founding sponsors BEA Systems, Cisco, IBM and SAP announced the formation of the SOA Consortium, a new advocacy group of users, service providers and technology vendors committed to helping the Global 1000 successfully adopt SOA by 2010. Other initial participants include Avis Budget Car Rental, Bank of America, CellExchange, Hewlett-Packard, the Integration Consortium, the Object Management Group, and WebEx Communications.

The SOA Consortium mission is based around a set of core premises, including the fact that SOA adoption is a key enabler for the 21st century enterprise; that achieving the benefits of SOA requires significant changes for both IT and business executives; that SOA is perceived by business executives as an IT integration and productivity story, rather than a business agility story; and that enterprise SOA practitioners would greatly benefit from a vibrant practitioner community.

The group has planned a series of SOA Consortium CIO Summits that will take place here on Feb. 27, in Dallas on Feb. 28, and in San Francisco on March 1. The Summits are by invitation only and will include CIOs and senior-level IT executives. The results of these summits will be incorporated into a detailed report that will help shape the direction of the consortium, SOA Consortium officials said.

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