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SOA getting its red carpet moment

I was looking at the IBM Impact 2008 site and between the cascading images of Drew Carey and the B-52’s it dawned on me that SOA has arrived.

Say what you will about the imperial excess IBM has planned for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas next month, but Big Blue is not the type to throw around its cash like a young rapper with a hit record. IBM’s always been a buttoned-down operation. It’s not shelling out for Hollywood A-list comedians and multi-platinum selling bands on a whim. Rest assured, the only reason it’s writing the fat check for this event is because it’s making a fatter pile of money on its SOA business.

Impact is an SOA show. It doesn’t pretend to be anything but a deep dive into service orientation. Last year in Orlando IBM turned out roughly 4,000 attendees for Impact, making it easily the biggest service-oriented architecture event in history. If anything, the Vegas Impact conference looks ready to dwarf it. While it may not be quite as large as the Interop show slated for later in the spring, that one vendor can assemble that much humanity for one technology track is beyond impressive.

The event boasts 220 customer presentations. Think about that, it’s more customers than you see at a lot of shows and we’re only talking speakers.

A lot of us folk in the media play this game about when SOA will “arrive,” when it will enter the majority adoption phase? Well I’ve got a Drew Carey, B-52’s, MGM Grand, 220 customer speakers, and thousands of attendees that says SOA already has arrived … and it’s about to get the kind of platform we haven’t seen in the IT industry since the heady days of the dot-com boom. Some may say Impact exhibits more of the signs of the irrational exuberance of the dot-com heyday, but we’re not talking about some flash-in-the-pan vendor trying to gin up business in a red-hot economy. This is old money putting on the ritz during what is tantamount to a recession.

The appropriate response, after “Wow!”, should be “Looks like IBM’s making buckets of money on this SOA thing.” And if IBM’s making that kind of coin, it means a whole pile of users are hip-deep into their SOA installations. That should only become clearer next month as a few thousand people are shaking it to “Dance This Mess Around”.

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A cynic might suggest that putting on the ritz is more to persuade doubters that the serious money IBM have invested in technology labelled SOA is justified. Indeed, maybe even shoring up the whole SOA take-up argument. The reality is that it's not too difficult to label IT projects as SOA (especially internally, where they are unlikely to be subject to any kind of SOA-compliance scrutiny). In fact, it is not too difficult to even have some justification for so labelling projects. SOA, after all, is often an end-game which is proven only when an architecture is proven to be open standards based, re-usable and effectively modelled. SOA-labelling is definitely today's dot-com boom. I'm still waiting to see evidence of Businesses supplying the Organisational change drive in the kind of big buckets that will really drive take-up of SOA and the creation of truly agile Enterprises. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places?
The article has a good point..there is something for everyone at IBM IMPACT---it will be the largest SOA conference planetwide. The range of technical presentations is pretty amazing....there are sessions on SOA, Web Services, Integration, Business Process Management, Web 2.0, Ajax, Open Source + technical presentations from IBM experts. You can see previews of these technical sessions on YouTube at: There are also 200 + Customer Speakers sharing SOA Best Practices. Its a pretty amazing lists of companies represented at this event. To view the full roster, go to: