Sunday, January 30, 2005

UPDATE: The Road to the Service Oriented Enterprise

For the last few weeks I've been traveling the nation talking to corporations about their transition to the Service Oriented Enterprise. I've met some great people and listened to their problems.

It has been good for me to get out of the newsgroups, the blog-o-sphere and the intellectual community to go see what Joe Developer is up to. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"Jeff, it was only a few years ago that we quit writing programs in Assembler and started writing them in COBOL."

"Development methodology? Yea, we have a development methodology - write the code real fast and put it in production."

"We are picking an EAI product to implement our service network."

Here are some other highlights:
- There was a huge gap in knowledge between architects and developers. The architects knew the buzzwords, had read the white papers and most of the developers were completely clueless on next-gen stuff. Developers were soooo busy learning new J-stuff (maven, hybernate, canoe, etc.) that they just didn't have time to worry about the WS-stuff.
- Managers and directors knew the buzzwords but didn't know how to cost justify or create a roadmap.
- People want to implement a "web services catalog" (think UDDI registry - perhaps even slimmed down).
- Most architects had heard of ESB's and were actively shopping for one.
- Many of the customers were explicit about NOT wanting to work with startups on their infrastructure. Their short list was usually: IBM, BEA and Tibco.
- The fundamentals of designing systems for use, reuse, evolve-ability and agility were missing. Developers don't need WS training, they need loose coupling training.
- The role of 'business analyst' or 'requirements analyst' seemed to be missing in many organizations. Use cases were NOT rolled into business cases.
- In large corporations, the majority of the employees had never spoken with their CIO, never seen a strategic I.T. plan (annual or otherwise) and never had the chance to talk with anyone of any influence about the fundamental problems in their organization.
- I.T. budgets are returning.
- Morale is mixed. Some are happy to have jobs others are upset about their career potential.

The potential for solving problems is high, but unfortunately many organizations have a huge gap between leadership and worker-bees. We need a major upgrade in 'business and I.T. alignment' before we move too far down a new paradigm shift like the Service Oriented Enterprise.

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