Recently, I have had the opportunity to review SOA Maturity Models (SOAMM’s) from a few different sources for a project in which I am participating.

Today I was on the phone with Michael Kuhbock, Chairman of the Integration Consortium and he pointed me to a recent ICBlog post he had written that takes issue with the usefulness of these models.

Michael suggests that while SOA Maturity Models may be helpful for assessing an organization’s progress on the roadmap toward SOA adoption, they are not general purpose enough to be used to measure overall IT capability in the same way that a model such as the CMM / CMMI models.

Michael quotes his Integration Consortium colleague, Jake Freivald, who writes:

Suppose someone in the days of time sharing systems discovered that client/server systems were a brilliant way to create new applications. They studied the problem closely, and came up with a five-level model based on the CMM / CMMI:

1. Initial client/server deployments – new functionality implemented in client/server technologies
2. Architecture-oriented client/server applications – IT cost reduction and control
3. Business-oriented applications – responsiveness of client/server applications to new business requirements
4. Measurable business applications – client / server applications that provide metrics of how well an organization meets business goals
5. Optimized business applications — client / server applications that can be reconfigured to optimize business applications automatically

What should we do with this model?

On the one hand, we should note that it does, in fact, provide a reasonable roadmap for the current technology. But we should also note that it’s nothing more than the CMM repackaged with a technological slant.

That leads to objection number one: do we want a technological slant? The purpose of the CMM is to define optimal processes for all of IT, client / server or not. In fact, the CMM specifically defines an optimization step in order to help the organization absorb new technologies that can help it optimize its development processes. So does it make sense to limit our use of an IT optimization model to client / server technologies?

And this leads us to objection number two: the model may show us when client / server usage is “mature”, but it doesn’t address the more important problem, which is understanding when client / server technologies themselves are obsolete. The model I propose above isn’t great, but it might be acceptable with some refinement — but who, these days, wants a client / server maturity model?

Having left the cozy confines of a Big 5 consulting firm to pursue opportunities with a client / server consulting firm a decade or so ago, I can personally relate to not being able to see past client / server to n-tier, distributed systems and certainly not to web services and SOA.

I would agree then that while SOA Maturity Models are useful things for now, we should all take care not to get so caught up in the technology-specific discussions of the day that we forget that something else always replaces today’s current new approach.

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I liked this defintion of Service Oriented Architecture contained in the IBM Redbook “The Solution Designer’s Guide to IBM On Demand Business Solutions”.

Definition of SOA

SOA is an integration architecture approach based on the concept of a service. The business and infrastructure functions that are required to build distributed systems are provided as services that collectively, or individually, deliver application functionality to either end-user applications or other services. SOA specifies that within any given architecture, there should be a consistent mechanism for services to communicate. That mechanism should be loosely coupled and support the use of explicit interfaces. SOA brings the benefits of loose coupling and encapsulation to integration at an enterprise level. It applies successful concepts proved by Object Oriented development, Component Based Design, and Enterprise Application Integration technology to an architectural approach for IT system integration.

Services are the building blocks to SOA, providing function out of which distributed systems can be built. Services can be invoked independently by either external or internal service consumers to process simple functions, or can be chained together to form more complex functionality and quickly devise new functionality.

By adopting an SOA approach and implementing it using supporting technologies, companies can build flexible systems that implement changing business processes quickly, and make extensive use of reusable components.

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My company, Conneva,Inc., purchased the website WMUsers.Com from its founder, Dan Green a few days ago.

Dan started WMUsers over 3 years ago. I remember getting his early emails promoting the first and only independent webMethods user community back when I was a new customer.

Today the site has nearly 7,500 members and over 35,000 posts.

The changeover is going smoothly so far and I can’t wait to unveil some improvements in the forums area that will make creating, browsing and searching forums messages easier and faster.

It will be fun to meet many WMUsers members at next week’s Integration World in Atlanta. If you will be there, be sure to stop by the WMUsers booth in the media sponsors area of the solutions hall.

wMUsers Logo.jpg

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Today was a travel day. Somewhere along the line I read a copy of USAToday. The article on “Early Adopter Technologies” caught my eye not only because I use almost every one of the technologies listed below, but because, apparently, so do many of my fellow Coloradans.

Four of the 25 counties that contain the highest percentage of tech-centric households are in Colorado, in the booming Denver region. Six are in the Northern Virginia-Washington-Baltimore corridor. And three are in Utah, in the Salt Lake City and Provo areas. Also among the top 25 are counties in Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Michigan and Texas.

Early Adopter Technologies – the percentage of U.S. households that have the following technologies:

  • Home theater (17.3%)
  • Cellphone with Internet access (16.1%)
  • Digital video recorder (13.8%)
  • Personal digital assistant (PDA) (11.3%)
  • High-definition TV (10.6%)
  • Cellphone/PDA hybrid device (8.2%)
  • Use only Cellphone for local phone service (7.2%)
  • Home WiFi network (4.8%)
  • Use of public WiFi hotspots (3.9%)
  • Pocket PC (2.9%)
  • Wireless local network (Bluetooth) (2.2%)
  • Internet phone service (2.1%)
  • Handheld wireless email device (1.7%)
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    This has very little to do with integration other than the fact that these guys “integrated” an Airsoft automatic BB gun, video camera, a photography tripod and some servo motors.

    I’m not sure what is more impressive, how well the thing actually works or that Aaron used his kid brother, Ezra, as a target.


    Sentry Gun details

    Sentry Gun video links: QuickTime Windows Media

    SentryGun.jpg

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    I attended the first DC-area advanced screening of the new movie Serenity tonight.

    Having not seen any episodes of the short-lived series Firefly, on which Serenity is based, I was a little unsure whether that would make it difficult to get up to speed on the storyline and characters. However, the film doesn’t assume that the viewer knows anything about the series and I never felt lost or that I needed to go rent the 12-episode Firefly DVD in order to “get it”. I will say, though, that the Firefly groupies, er… I mean, fans, in the screening did seem to have a head start in their reactions to the crew’s joking with one another.

    The film is action-packed from the beginning but has interesting characters whose chemistry together conveys a sense of camaraderie forged in shared struggles both from the long over war against the Alliance and the hard-scrabble existence of a freighter of questionable reputation eking out an existence on the edge of civilized space.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    My Dad, whose birthday is today, got me hooked on Science Fiction years ago with Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot” and Robert Heinlein’s “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel”. So I was interested to read about the new Sci-Fi film Serenity on one of the blogs I frequent.

    Universal is piloting a unique promotion technique by getting bloggers to review advanced screenings of the film. I’m registered to attend the Washington D. C. showing next week and will update this post with my impressions.

    Movie Synopsis:

    Joss Whedon- the Oscar(r)- and Emmy-nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel-now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity.

    The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family – squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

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    The gang at CustomWare have expanded their Wiki-based webMethods FAQ and opened it up to outside contributors. With over 100 participants (as of Dec. 2004), many of you are arlready involved in the project.

    If you haven’t yet, why not drop in and see what knowledge you can share?

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    I recently added new links to make subscribing to the Conneva Blog easier than ever with your favorite RSS Reader or news aggregator.

    FeedBurner publishes a feed for my site and provides handly little “chicklets” to help reader subscribe quickly.

    FeedBurner also offers something they call a Headline Animator that looks like this:

    Conneva Blog

    Drop me an email or post a comment, if you subscribe using one of these new links.

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    An old friend from college forwarded a job opportunity to me for a senior level position at a major US company.

    One of the job requirements for this position was for specific hands-on experience with open source projects. This company is focused on using open source to create their next generation SOA environment.

    As part of an industry that is struggling currently, this company’s stated goal for open source adoption is cost savings.

    Maybe the driver for adoption of open source integration frameworks like Synapse will not be application vendor support, but companies struggling to stay current technically in the midst of trying economic downturns.

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