SOA for PLM applications (and others?) – Is it really a good idea? Part 2

I would like to come back on that subject initiated in the first part some weeks ago. I exposed my vision of what is SOA, and how this could change the way we design an application.

I would like now to make a step back and look at the entire network of applications used by a given community. CIOs have to manage that network, and to work with business departments to manage the data flow between these applications. It is a tough subject, especially in big organizations, and CIOs have to focus on the right way:

  • to support business processes
  • to master the cost of the whole network

Numerous methods have emerged in the past years to target those objectives, and it can be resumed by BPM (Business Process Management or Modeling). For my point of view, there are three topics to address:

  • which data to export (business data and business decisions)
  • how to transport that data
  • where to transport that data

The benefit of SOA is for me to try to forget the last topic. Why? Mastering the whole network means trying to reduce the number of connections between systems. Several ideas come up to reach that objective: define the right data flow, eliminating the small paths or the bad path, which leads to business process reengineering initiatives.

In today’s world, this kind of schema definition has a short life time, and the business decisions can have changed when the whole schema is ready to be implemented or enhanced.

So for me, CIOs should focus on the two first points:

  • to establish a communication standard over the network, to support data and decision exchanges
  • to ask to application owners to publish which information should bring value to other communities.

This leads to published data. If one or several application owner needs this data, or only a part of it, up to them to take it, or to filter it. It will not change the connection point.

System architects will then have only to define which system masters which data. That’s were the mindset has to change, because it is unusual to publish data without knowing who will use it. It may be a first pragmatic step trying to kill silos, ie pushing people to think about which part of their data could interest other communities.

What do you think?

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