In part 2 of this interview with Miko Matsumura, vice president of SOA marketing for webMethods Inc., he talks about who will lead the way in SOA education in 2007 and why it will determine which organizations will be winners and losers in the race to implement SOA. Read part one.
In the first part of this interview, you talked about SOA education and how crucial it will be in moving service orientation beyond IT, but who is going to lead that educational effort?
I see it as being a broad partnership. I see there being education that comes from vendors. I see the opportunity for analysts and third party providers that can do education content and courses. There's a role for integrators, who can come in and provide training. So there will be a broad spectrum of offerings and those offerings will start popping up left and right. What will drive that?
It will happen because once you get into serious deployment of SOA, part of the scalability of the system requires a scalability of understanding. Part of what we're seeing is visionary architects that are bringing SOA to their organizations are hitting some boundaries and barriers when it comes to the rest of the organization in terms of really getting it. Is that the problem where surveys still find that business people really have no clue about SOA?
Yes, what happens is these visionary architects need partnerships in order to drive SOA education. They will team up with whoever can help. So in many case there will be vendor partnerships. Architects will recruit vendors to help evangelize the SOA message. Vendors are obviously very commercially motivated to do so. There will also be integrators who will do that. There are a lot of opportunities for third parties. So architects need help with SOA education?
Emerging is this model where there's this enlightened architect figure and then there's a need for that figure to team up with a bigger partner to actually help scale up the education piece. There's also a ZapThink prediction for 2007 that there will be a shortage of visionary architects. As SOA starts becoming an in-demand function, these individuals themselves will be in short supply. What's noteworthy is that there is a lot of reliance in SOA is on specific types of people. These projects tend to be anchored by people who get it. What we need for SOA education is to have some people who get it help propagate that knowledge across the organization. That's going to be another 2007 hot button, which is the shortage of qualified visionary architects. So do we need an education initiative to train more visionary architects?
Absolutely. What's interesting about this trend is that if you look at the machine and technical side, a lot of it is fairly linear in the way that people are trained. People are trained in measurable knowledge. What's interesting about the adoption curve for SOA in the business domain is that there needs to be two parallel tracks. There needs to be a track focused on knowledge, but the other track needs to be focused on motivation. There needs to be this tie-in to the feeling that this information is strategic and vital. There needs to be education about why people should care about SOA. Right now, that is sort of the nature of the level to which SOA has ascended. Where has it ascended and what does that mean?
It's ascended from IT services layer to business services layer, which is one way of looking at it, but instead of thinking about it in terms of service governance or even IT governance, people are starting to think of it as corporate governance. This is the notion that the whole company can be decomposed into business services. These services have relationships of interdependence across business units and silos and out to partners and regulators, customers and suppliers. That's the service ecosystem platform model. Yet look at it in terms of the way human beings are motivated to learn. For example researchers in language acquisition in children have observed that if you put a radio broadcasting in Chinese into a child's room the child won't learn Chinese. If that's not the language spoken around the house, the radio just becomes noise. Exposure to language is not sufficient. Motivation has to be included. The child doesn't have any motivation to learn the Chinese on the radio, it's just noise. So is SOA just noise to business people?
As we move into the business layer and business people are told they have to learn new things, the why-do-I-have-to-learn-this factor becomes more important. I think we're past the does-IT-matter stage. People are beginning to realize that IT is ultimately able to encode the difference between one organization and another and the organizations that successfully leverage technology are going to supercede the ones that aren't. SOA is just another frontier of that same pattern. If you were talking to a business person who was not familiar with SOA what would you say to convince them that they need to take an interest in this SOA thing?
The first thing that needs to be communicated is the strategic nature of technology and the capabilities of this new architecture. First, the language of service orientation is not solely the language of technology. That's important for people to understand because the service consumer pattern is something just about anybody can understand. It's as simple as request response. If you look at the service consumer pattern all you're saying is there's a service consumer, there's a service provider and the service consumer essentially has an asymmetric relationship whereby the consumer requests something and the provider responds. I know that's almost ludicrously simple, but the thing the business person needs to understand is that pattern is essentially the atomic structure of all business interaction. This model scales in terms of its granularity. Can you give a business example of what you mean?
So, for example, Boeing makes a huge deal with the United States government. That huge deal follows the pattern. The pattern is: The U.S. asks: "Where's our C-130 transport plane?" Boeing says: "Here's five." That's the pattern. It models any business interaction and as such it allows you to decompose all business activity into this pattern. Now the question is why is that of interest? The reason is that when you have decomposed your business into these patterns, all alike, all identical, at many different stages of granularity, then four or five strategic functions emerge out of this decomposition.
The first thing that emerges is the principle of consolidation, which means it becomes dramatically easier to buy companies and sell companies. You can take a division in. You can spin it off. This works because you've created a component structure to your business that allows these units to be modular. Another super power that you get from this is business services outsourcing. You can say, "This particular module is not our core competency in our business, we're going to farm this module out." By having a granular and compose-able aspect to it, you are empowered to mix and match your sourcing. The third super power that you gain is the ability to drive markets. As soon as you create modularity and compose-ability what you end up with it not just a generic interface for providing services. You have a generic interface for consuming services. You can create a marketplace of suppliers who can dynamically compete for your business by providing the lowest price. You can drive value the other way. You can create a marketplace for consumers. You can have your service that you offer to the market be composed by your service consumers. What would be an example of that?
If you're offering Voice over IP as a service it enables people to embed that capability in a car navigator or a sales force automation tool or a wristwatch. You create an infinite variety of combinations of ways to consume what you have to offer. Because of that, you're able to capture a lot more of the market than ever before. So you're telling the business person that SOA means business?
What I'm proposing is that by going through the process of SOA and decomposing your business services into these fundamental patterns, what you gain is supplier markets, consumer markets, including access to places your service didn't expect to appear. Like "Oh, wow, I never thought I'd be selling in this country." Business 101 is corporate strategy and product strategy both buy side and sell side. If you just look at all the facets of business, it turns out the service-oriented pattern impacts every single aspect. If you can build your company against the atomic consumer pattern of service orientation it supercharges everything that you do.
I believe the market will fall into four pieces. These four piece are mathematically complete, so my prediction is just about how big these pieces will be. Basically there will be companies that get it and companies that don't get it. The other axis will be companies that go into it and companies that don't go into it. So the question become how many companies are going to go into it that don't get it. Those are the companies that are going to bleed themselves to death and that's going to be painful and agonizing. Then what percentage of the companies are going to go into it and do get it. Those companies are going to be the leading lights that certainly outshine the companies that don't. I can't imagine there will be companies that get it but don't do it. So will 2007 be the year of SOA winners and losers?
I think we are going to see some big winners and some big losers in 2007 around SOA. It will scare some companies and embolden others. I think 2007 is going to be a schizophrenic year. In 2006, that wasn't the case. Everybody was just mumbling: "SOA is good." In 2007, it's going to go bipolar. There are going to be people who are going to bet the whole company on SOA and there's going to be another group that is not going to touch SOA with a 10-foot pole.