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With economy in crisis, IBM SOA strategist Carter sees business processes under scrutiny

Business processes come under new scrutiny in today's tough economic setting, IBM's Sandy Carter told members of the SOA Consortium in Washington, D.C. That process scrutiny could lead to greater so-called 'green' energy savings, she said.

Business processes in organization are under new scrutiny in the midst of the ongoing world economic recession, IBM's Sandy Carter, VP for SOA and WebSphere Strategy, this week told an audience at a meeting of the SOA Consortium in Washington, D.C. Some of that process scrutiny could lead to greater energy savings in IT and other parts of companies, she suggested.

Companies are beginning to look more closely at what they define as 'cost,' Carter indicated.

"As they break away their processes, companies are optimizing on more than one variable," she said. Carter cited an example of potential energy savings from the supply chain – and the food chain.

"A carrot in the U.S. typically travels 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate," she noted. "It's 'efficient' but it is not the greenest way to do things." Clearly, the 'carbon cost' of all that travel could be considered too.

Beyond the data center

At the SOA Consortium meeting, others echoed Carter's comments that processes are ripe for energy savings. Independent consultant David Lithicum said that cloud computing is somewhat overhyped as an energy saver, and that process advances have more potential.

"For many, the big selling point for cloud computing is green computing. That silliness is going to stop," he said. The biggest 'green' savings are around reducing or improving processes, he said.

"Green is not just about data centers," said Richard Soley, Chairman and CEO of the Object Management Group (OMG), the SOA Consortium event sponsor. "There are a lot of processes in the way you manage your business, and they are not all in the data center. Many are not even in IT." By measuring and refining multiple dimensions of a business, he suggested, firms can save money, and energy. Soley noted that the OMG had begun work on a Green Computing Maturity Model to identify best practices in this regard.

Current business events

Speaking later with, IBM's Carter said Business Event Processing (BEP) too is undergoing rapid shifts as the economy tightens. BEP is IBM's designation for what others call 'complex event processing,' or 'business activity monitoring.'

Firms usually cull mostly historical data to help in decision making. But, as Carter says, economic factors have changed drastically. "Whose history really matters?" she asks. "Right now, you do not look back on history. Business events [processing] allows managers to work on events happening today."

Carter said recent IBM portfolio additions such as iLog visualization and optimization tools greatly enhance users' ability to discern important patterns while viewing streams of key business events. She declined to detail the status of efforts to forge deeper integration between the newly purchased iLog suites and other Websphere line offerings, but said news would be forthcoming at IBM's Impact 2009 Smart SOA event in Las Vegas in May.

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