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Joining Enterprises With Web 2.0

Big push in 2006

The notion of building bridges to service providers and managing the interaction will become more commonplace in 2006 as we learn to accept that many services we leverage within an enterprise are services we may not host. The technology exists today. We need to define and refine our approaches now, including architectures, enabling technology, and use of standards. Most enterprises are way behind.

We are moving toward a day when most of our enterprise applications may be delivered as services, and thus provide a more economical way to approach information technology management with businesses going forward. This is also the great equalizer since businesses, both large and small, will have access to the same number and quality of services, much as they do with Web sites today. Shared services will create many opportunities, including better agility and the ability to operate a business with fewer IT resources. In essence, we're moving to Web 2.0 where service delivery over the Internet will be added to information delivery as the key strategic value of the Web to businesses, as well as extending the Web as a true platform.

All you have to do is to look around you. With the advent of SaaS (Software as a Service), guys likes Salesforce.com and NetSuite are cleaning up with soaring subscriptions. Moreover, the Web is getting the right interface with rich client technologies, such as AJAX, emerging to provide a much better dynamic user experience. Let's face it; the Web has grown from a simple information delivery platform to a grouping of many valuable exposed services with rich dynamic user interfaces. It's really the global SOA, and those who learn to leverage it now will be well ahead of those who ignore the trend.

However, in order to make this a reality, we must learn to how to bridge the gaps between our enterprise systems and SOAs and Web service providers that exist across the Internet. Special consideration must be given to connectivity, interoperability, security, and shared processes. Problems are easily solvable with the right technology and approaches, but I would say that most out there who are looking at this new opportunity don't have a clue as to how to make the new and old work and play well together.

The journey has just begun down this road, as we're looking to join our existing enterprise system with Web 2.0, and figure out how all of this works and plays well with the notion of an SOA moving toward a global SOA. Clearly, there are a few technical issues that you must address, such as:

  • Semantic and metadata management, or, the management of the different information representations among the external services and internal systems
  • Transformation and routing, or, accounting for those data differences during run time
  • Governance across all systems, meaning not giving up the notion of security when extending your SOA to the global SOA
  • Discovery and service management, meaning how to find and leverage services inside or outside of your enterprise, and how to keep track of those services through their maturation
  • Information consumption, processing, and delivery, or, how to effectively move information to and from all interested systems
  • Connectivity and adapter management, or, how to externalize and internalize information and services from very old and proprietary systems
  • Process orchestration and service, and process abstraction, or, the ability to abstract the services and information flows into bound processes, thus creating a solution
At the end of the day, external Web services should function as any other enterprise application, both housing and sharing critical business information as well as services. In other words, there should be no clear line between the existing enterprise applications and the remote services. Think about it. You have access to thousands of services with a single, on-demand application provider, as well as information, schemas, etc., and the same patterns found in other on-demand application providers as well. Moreover, you subscribe to these services rather than purchase them, and they exist inside of your enterprise as if they are native.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the creation of an SOA on top of these applications, including process/orchestration layers, directory services layers, identity management, monitoring, semantic management, etc., would add a tremendous amount of value, considering the use of those applications and abstraction into real business solutions. Indeed, I find that many SOAs for many businesses actually exist outside of their firewalls, making their on-demand applications work well together. This trend is only accelerating as Web 2.0 becomes more valuable for enterprises.

What's cool about this is that businesses will have to change to remain competitive. As others learn to embrace Web 2.0 within their enterprise, as with the Web of 10 years ago, others in their community will have to do so just to keep up. There are many examples of this today, albeit it's still early in the cycle. Indeed, many small businesses might find that the majority of enterprise processing occurs by leveraging outside services - services they don't own and haven't created. Is that scary, or exciting? I think it's exciting!

More Stories By David Linthicum

Dave Linthicum is Sr. VP at Cloud Technology Partners, and an internationally known cloud computing and SOA expert. He is a sought-after consultant, speaker, and blogger. In his career, Dave has formed or enhanced many of the ideas behind modern distributed computing including EAI, B2B Application Integration, and SOA, approaches and technologies in wide use today. In addition, he is the Editor-in-Chief of SYS-CON's Virtualization Journal.

For the last 10 years, he has focused on the technology and strategies around cloud computing, including working with several cloud computing startups. His industry experience includes tenure as CTO and CEO of several successful software and cloud computing companies, and upper-level management positions in Fortune 500 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years, and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including University of Virginia and Arizona State University. He keynotes at many leading technology conferences, and has several well-read columns and blogs. Linthicum has authored 10 books, including the ground-breaking "Enterprise Application Integration" and "B2B Application Integration." You can reach him at [email protected] Or follow him on Twitter. Or view his profile on LinkedIn.

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SYS-CON Belgium News Desk 02/22/06 10:34:20 AM EST

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