Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009

Gartner has nominated their top 10 strategic technologies for 2009. In priority order they are:

1. Virtualization
2. Business Intelligence
3. Cloud Computing
4. Green IT
5. Unified Communications
6. Social Software and Social Networking
7. Web Oriented Architecture
8. Enterprise Mashups
9. Specialized Systems
10. Servers – Beyond Blades

My primary interests in SOA and CEP are represented in items 7 and 2 respectively (with some applicability to 8).

Business Intelligence. Business Intelligence (BI), the top technology priority in Gartner’s 2008 CIO survey, can have a direct positive impact on a company’s business performance, dramatically improving its ability to accomplish its mission by making smarter decisions at every level of the business from corporate strategy to operational processes. BI is particularly strategic because it is directed toward business managers and knowledge workers who make up the pool of thinkers and decision makers that are tasked with running, growing and transforming the business. Tools that let these users make faster, better and more-informed decisions are particularly valuable in a difficult business environment

(emphasis added).  Complex Event Processing is a key enabling technology for real-time business intelligence. The ability to abstract “rules” out of data using analytics and then have those rules executed in real-time to match against “events” running around your enterprise bus is what will make BI achieve the needs of business to make informed decisions “faster”. Traditional BI where you feed data into a mammoth DWH and then analyse the results at some point later suffer from high latencies and reduced information currency. CEP can reduce these latencies from weeks or months down to seconds.

Web-Oriented Architectures. The Internet is arguably the best example of an agile, interoperable and scalable service-oriented environment in existence. This level of flexibility is achieved because of key design principles inherent in the Internet/Web approach, as well as the emergence of Web-centric technologies and standards that promote these principles. The use of Web-centric models to build global-class solutions cannot address the full breadth of enterprise computing needs. However, Gartner expects that continued evolution of the Web-centric approach will enable its use in an ever-broadening set of enterprise solutions during the next five years.

Recognition that SOA is more than just “Web Services”and that at least one other architectural paradigm is available to SOA implementers.

Interesting that BPM has dropped from the list after featuring in the previous two years. And SOA itself has not been mentioned since the list for 2006. It looks like SOA has become more business as usual – part of the IT “furniture” – as I predicted some time ago.

SOA Executive Insight Report

An important force helping to push SOA up the slope of enlightenment is the sharing of knowledge, experience and validation from SOA “doers” rather than marketers. The SOA Consortium is one body set up by the OMG to try to help this along (although caveat emptor the consortium is sponsored by a bunch of vendors).

I read through the SOA Executive Insight Report which reports on the discussion between a number of CIOs who all apparently have extensive SOA experience. There are a couple of interesting comments of note.

The CIOs…

“expressed concern regarding the current industry focus on wire protocols and products, rather than business value generation and the necessary business and IT changes for sustainable SOA success. The industry – vendors, press and practitioners – must “elevate out of the technical weeds” in order to engage the business on SOA.”

This was written in April 2007, but is still so true today. In particular the arguments of ws-* versus REST are not about SOA and should not be confused with the viability or otherwise of service oriented approaches to providing functionality and value to IT users.

The second interesting comment is:

“CIOs noted the lack of common practices for

  • service versioning,
  • the complexity of testing shared services with multiple consumers,
  • the challenge of identifying mission critical services,
  • the reinvention of chargeback procedures,
  • blind spots in capacity planning, and
  • the need for ‘real-time releases’.

The CIOs want best practices for these issues. Specifically, they mentioned an ‘ITIL for SOA’.”

These are issues that I see creating many challenges for SOA adopters and there are no simple solutions. These are also issues I have run into in my own SOA work and I hope to write about them in the future.

One other comment on the SOA Consortium web site. There are a number of SOA “case studies” which is great to see, but very disappointing once you drill into them. They lack any real “meat.” We need more than just a few bullet points…details are needed on what challenges they faced and how they overcame them. As they stand the case studies look like a selection of vendor power-points.