Service-Oriented Architectures Underpin On-demand

It seems the sphere of influence for Web services
technologies is broader than originally thought, as one research firm
contends service-oriented architectures (SOAs)– methods used to facilitate
communications between different applications and data sources — are
underpinning on-demand, or utility computing efforts.

Waltham, Mass-based research firm ZapThink said in a recent report that
SOAs will offer the organizing principle behind the on demand computing
movement, which is spearheaded by such vendors as IBM, HP, Computer
Associates and Veritas. Web services are important to the adoption of
service-oriented architectures because the XML standards on which they are
based let companies connect data or processes to different applications.


The ZapThink report, titled “SOAs: More Change Ahead for IT Consulting,”
also concluded that total SOA architectural and process consulting revenues
will surpass those from system integration by 2006, and that system
integration revenue by professional services organizations will decrease by
over 70 percent by 2010.


According to ZapThink Senior Analyst Jason Bloomberg, the notion of
on-demand is broad and is something that will need to be chiseled down to
concrete definitions at some point. In the meantime, he said it is widely
accepted that the umbrella vision of automated services that may be accessed
easily consists of “managed operations delivery models for IT operations,
pay-as-you-go financial models for IT capabilities, shared pool approaches
to IT resources, as well as the concepts of grid computing,
self-management/adaptive management/autonomic computing.


Bloomberg said the IT realm can throw service-oriented architectures into
the mix as well, as IBM, HP and CA are pushing the on demand philosophy,
albeit from slightly different angles: HP and CA are focusing on the
management components, while IBM employs a services-driven approach.


“The common thread through all these concepts is the idea of virtualizing IT
resources, which means hiding the underlying complexity of the technology in
a layer of abstraction that simplifies the access and use of those
resources,” Bloomberg said. “In other words, the coordinating concept of on
demand is Service orientation. The change in perspective that is needed to
go from point-to-point applications of Web Services to SOAs is the same
change in perspective needed to understand the true value and power of on
demand. Professional services must understand this shift in perspective in
order to meet the long-term needs of their clients.”


Bloomberg also reiterated his firm’s contention that service-oriented
processes will have such a direct effect on the software industry that the
viability of systems integrators will be tested.
To accommodate the demand for such processes, he said companies will look to
professional services organizations for architectural consulting and
business process optimization solutions and less for actual system
integration work.


“Because Web Services will enable tomorrow’s software to integrate out of
the box, consultants will have to add value somewhere else,” Bloomberg said.
Existing integration vendors are already feeling the pain. webMethods and
TIBCO are heavily into Web Services, and some of the consulting firms we
interviewed are helping their customers build SOAs on top of EAI backbones.”


Bloomberg provided an example, noting a change in Federal Express’ European
operations. FedEx has a globally centralized infrastructure based on TIBCO.
India-based consulting firm MphasiS helped FedEx’s European operations build
an SOA on top of TIBCO, focusing much of MphasiS’ efforts on Service
definition and identifying the relevant Service consumers and producers. So,
while FedEx is committed to TIBCO, it is also is moving to service-oriented
architecture.


For integrators, Bloomberg said salvation lies in moving up the “integration
zipper” from an application programming interface adapter
angle to a business process/semantics focused approach as they ready their
products to participate in SOAs.”


Smaller integration vendors like Mercator and Vitria are looking at focusing
on business process enablement in particular vertical markets, while vendors
like IONA are struggling to shift their CORBA-based business
to more of a pure service-oriented integration business. Other vendors like
WRQ and Sonic Software have been gaining traction in the service-oriented
integration space.


Consultants such as ZapThink aren’t the only firms bullish on
service-oriented architectures and Web services. Meta Group recently
concluded that Web services, utility computing and outsourcing will extend
the boundaries of the hosting market.


“The $2.7 billion market for managed hosting services is slowing to a 23%
growth rate as many customers consolidate contracts and migrate services
in-house,” says Corey Ferengul, vice president and principal analyst with
META Group’s Operations Strategies. “Emerging industry trends that will
accelerate hosting market growth include Web services, utility computing,
and the general emphasis on outsourcing as a strategy to reduce costs and
extend capabilities. The outsourcing relationship should be viewed as a
trusted strategic relationship, emphasizing business value over pricing.”

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