In the 1st week of December, I attended the SOA Executive Summit at Dallas (the slides are available too) and also signed copies of my book, SOA Compass, for the event participants. During the breakout sessions, I was broached by customer executives with questions ranging from "Is SOA real or a hype?" to "How to I start applying SOA to my company and realizing the benefits?" I answered them largely along the lines I shared with the dW Architect Zone last year. Hearing some of the rhetoric presented at the summit, I get concerned that the marketing and sales machinery make SOA sound like a fast, easy elixir that can be injected into the business/enterprise architecture to magically resolve the business challenges and IT issues ... I think Grady also shared a similar sentiment on his blog. Just to re-emphasize again: SOA is just an approach - an approach which allows business and IT to align better. But applying this approach (or knowing how to apply, where to apply, what to apply, when to apply) is not easy. Also, SOA does not preclude the sound principles and practices of business engineering, process design, IT architecture and design ... it just refines them.
Having said that, the Four Seasons Resort at Dallas is a delightful hotel with sumptuous food, exceptional service, and top-notch R&R amenities to indulge in. And the IBM event team did a wonderful job at organizing and coordinating the 2-day summit.
During this event and other occasions where I meet customers, another frequent question is: How do the IBM tools such as WebSphere Business Modeler (WBM), WebSphere Business Monitor, WebSphere Integration Developer (WID) and their associated runtimes - such as, WebSphere Process Server (WPS) - relate to one another? Since most customers I meet are executives or decision makers, they are interested in understanding this from a iterative business process modeling, proactive business performance metrics, and executive dashboard perspectives. The figure below provides a high-level view of this relationship:
If you are interested in understanding the details behind this picture, I recommend the IBM Redpaper - Best Practices for Using WebSphere Business Modeler and Monitor, which provides reasonable depth (for a 100 page paper), shares best practices and connects them with simulated case studies.
Yesterday, IBM announced the availability of the alpha version of the WAS 6.1 EJB 3.0 Feature Pack. Being alpha, this feature pack does not provide a full implementation of EJB3, but enough to test drive the simplified business logic and new persistence models. Participating in the alpha allows you to experiment and provide feedback/inputs to the WAS development teams.
Finally, as the NFL regular seasons wraps up, the Steelers' playoff hopes are hanging on a thread of mathematical probability. The collective weight of Ben's off-season adventures, the non-existent offensive line (in most games), and perhaps a sense of foolish pride, have placed the Steelers in this precarious position, and most likely, will snap that thread. But this year, the city's focus has shifted from the field to the rink where a band of young Penguin phenoms led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have started the NHL evolution and have begun the "March of the Penguins".
This will probably be my last post for 2006 ... so wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a terrific new year!