Service Oriented Enterprise

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

SOA Boot Camp: Day 13  

After two days of rest we returned to boot camp in Austin where Luc Clement and Chuck D'Antonio of Systinet arrived to update us on the status of Systinet's Blizzard Platform. Many boot camp participants have pointed to Systinet as playing a crucial role in SOA governance. Their Governance Interoperability Framework (GIF) has gained traction among several of our key partners so we were eager to hear more details from the source. Clearly the company has an aggressive set of capabilities they are looking to build out and we were able to drill down on their current and upcoming products.

Luc started out by building the case for SOA governance. We have been discussing this daily but Luc has been probing multiple customers and developing an excellent list of challenges being faced in the field and Systinet's roadmap to solving them. The focus this year is around policy management but provisioning challenges are going to be addressed soon.

There have been many controversies around the UDDI spec and it was excellent to hear Luc's point of view about how the spec developed (including Bill Gates' role) and what parts should be ignored. Systinet dominates the UDDI compliant registry space, but where the registry maintains references only, there is a need to manage the metadata that is an essential component of a contemporary SOA. Luc helped clarify what the Systinet repository product will and will not do and how they avoid creating overlap with other repositories.

Luc also gave us a look at Contract Manager. This product pushes SOA metadata to a necessary further step that involves tracking service consumers rather than just the producers. Solving many the lifecycle management challenges SOA presents is going to require this additional knowledge in the infrastructure.

Chuck led a drill down into the Registry product including the process Systinet is using with their customers to bring a registry up. While some people cringe when the subject of UDDI tModels comes up, obviously Systinet knows this stuff cold and Chuck helped the team get a solid grounding and understanding of some of the finer points. When deploying Registry, Systinet leads their clients through a workshop process and Chuck helped us see inside how Systinet is approaching the design decisions involved in creating initial taxonomies and how we could add value to the process.

As night fell Chuck took the team through a deep dive into Policy Manager. Policy permeates an SOA and we have had heated discussions about where it should be created, stored, and managed. We were pleased to hear the degree to which those designing the product are engaged with its earliest adopters. We'll be working with the product in our lab to help guide their efforts as well.

posted by jeff | 1:32 PM

Sunday, October 23, 2005

SOA Boot Camp: Days 10, 11 & 12  

Day 10 was the culmination of a lot of hard work; we took all that we had learned about clients, services, intermediaries, architecture, design and pulled it all together under the 'composite application' umbrella. Deborah Scharfetter, VP of Products from Above All Software walked us through the advanced features of their application composition suite.

Above All definitely understands the idea of rapid composition. Their suite in some ways looks like a 'service oriented powerbuilder'. They have some interesting design concepts in the product: 1. Leverage SOA whenever possible, but don't punish the user if SOA isn't possible 2. Make it easy to tap into packaged applications (SAP, Siebel, etc.) 3. Leverage WYSIWYG concepts to enable rapid development 4. Assume that there will be multiple delivery channels (thin client, portlet, rich client, mobile client, etc.) 5. Services will be combined with other services to create composite services, which in turn will be exposed to the service network.

For some reasons "SOA" doesn't seem to hit home until people see a user interface on it. Composite applications seems to create that 'aha' momentum for many.

Day 11 focused mostly on managing & monitoring services in an operational environment. Jason Hollander and Chris Bowlds from Actional went over their SOAPstation and Looking Glass products. Both products looked strong. It was also clear that Actional was taking a stronger interest in the security side of equation than many of the other vendors. SOAPstation has been carefully designed to do both fine grained and coarse grained access control. This is in addition to a real nice UI for quickly adding in ws-sec attributes (signature, encryption,etc.)

The Looking Glass product focuses on the monitoring of services. The product appears to be well designed and full-featured. However it is unclear to me how it will compete/complement with the Tivoli/BMC/HP trio. I really like what Actional has done I just see a potential crash course with the big three. For now, they'll have no trouble fending them off - their offering is advanced and buyers that need a solution today will find an easy answer.

Day 12 we split into teams and continued building out some of our reference architectures. We are close to finishing our SOA Security Reference Architecture - we just need to add a bit more around fine grained access and vulnerability detection. We also made progress in knocking out an XML Firewall Buyers Guide (we'll publish it soon). Lastly, we did a first draft on our 'SOA Operations Management Reference Architecture' and 'SOA Presentation and Channels Reference Architecture' (plenty more to do here!)

By the end of the day on Saturday - we all were starting to feel like this was really a 'boot camp'. We're tired - we all hopped on planes and headed home to see our families. We'll kick it back in gear on Tuesday...

posted by jeff | 10:03 AM