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SOA & WOA: Opinion

The Economic Whipsaw Interrupts Our SOA Discussion

Keep Thinking SOA, BPM, BI, CEP et al

I did my teenage son a solid a few years ago, riding with him (twice) on an enormous roller coaster that had a vertical drop of something like two million feet. But it wasn’t the drop that did me in, it was the constant whipsawing up and down, back and forth, side to side, as the demonic coaster vented its wrath on us. My insides were, shall we say, unstable for hours after that ride, and my back never fully recovered.

This is the feeling that the world has been experiencing over the past several months. Stock markets gyrate more wildly than previously imaginable, world oil prices have gone from extreme to cratered (and who knows when back to extreme again), and there is a day-to-day pressure to perform in business the likes of which has not been since in the modern, post-WWII era. The old canard about the rest of the world sneezing when the US catches a cold is a quaint memory, as there are days when the entire planet seems to be in the grip of a disease far more serious than a case of the sniffles.

But life and business go on. Our new issue of NOW Magazine devotes several of its pages to how all this affects you, ie, how do you get IT budget in a tight environment? As with the roller coaster, it’s not the first, sudden drop that inflicts the damage, but rather, all the ensuing whipsawing and uncertainty that accompanies it. How can we keep our eyes on the big picture when it’s hard to keep anything in focus?

Well, as one who was almost a fully-formed adult when the personal computer first made its appearance, and who has witnessed first-hand all of the major IT trends since then, I have to say that now is by far the most exciting time in the history of this business. No reason to bore you with ancient tales of the original 640K RAM limit, the evolution/decline/re-evolution of client-server archtecture, The Year of the LAN, the era of “risc-y business,” the birth of the Worldwide Web, etc. I think that this era, in which enterprises are deconstructing their systems and recreating them with the sets of marvelous building blocks that have emerged in recent years, trumps the Web for sheer excitement.

We have finally reached a time when our enterprise computing systems can leverage our knowledge and desires. Whether this means using complex-event management to migrate customer service from a reactive to predictive mindset, using business intelligence to augment fantasy football knowledge, or use SOA and BPM to trigger the next wave of IT productivity gains, it’s clear that we have entered a new era.

The dot-com meltdown was triggered by unsustainable business models and a lack of high-bandwidth connections. (Remember, in April 2000, when the collapse began, only 10% of U.S. households had high-speed connections.) Today high-speed connections have become commonplace in developed markets and continue to grow in all parts of the world. Business models are once again based on profits and tangible value. And our information technologies can now be deconstructed, reconfigured (loosely), and virtualized (ie, put to efficient use) in a way that did not exist as recently as the dawn of this millenium.

The Web was the culmination of years of thinking about how to tap the power of the decentralized Internet in a hyperlinked environment. But the Web is a medium first and foremost, and through it the modern era of enterprise IT is being built. It is this building process that is facilitating sea change throughout the world. Whether your interest and expertise runs to globalization issues, user experience development, driving functionality through the browser, or wringing continuous improvement from your business, it is the IT that is driving the bus (so to speak).

So pick up your hat, put it back on your head. Think about innovation, transformation, and SOA implementation. Most of all, trust that the whipsawing will, in fact, end.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.