Tag Archives: SOA

A reality check on “citizen development”

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The topic of Citizen Development recently received a lot of attention – the latest coming from new Gartner report and from ebizQ forums. So I’d like to revisit it.

The temptation of “citizen” application development dates back to the prehistory of the PC – the introduction of micro computers and products such as Framework and dBase. That was the time when we entered the market with Magic Software, and I supported the thesis that 4GL’s enable line of business experts to directly implement business applications shortcutting much of the traditional development and programming process. Reality proved otherwise, showing that such easy to use tools actually amplify lack of IT skills, which sometimes led to very unhappy endings. We revised our approach very fast to target system analysts rather than LOB professionals, and observed amazing results – very small teams providing very rich and comprehensive applications (an example in More about Enterprise RIA in practice).

Nowadays, I believe that citizen development can be effective provided the following combination: easy and intuitive assembly and composition tools with adequately enforced governance, and a professionally developed collection of services (building blocks). A good example of such a mix is Convertigo.com, which evolved from Programmatic Integration to Enterprise Mashup’s and now to SOA backend enablement (targeted at IT professionals via an Eclipse based studio) and Front-End composition (targeted at citizen developers with Convertigo’s own Composer as well as other popular composition tools).

What do you think about Citizen Development?


Are we living in SOA?

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ebizQ is running a great complement of industry forums (www.ebizq.net/blogs/ebizq_forum/2009/05), which provide me with posting stimulus. I just posted a comment in the SOA forum, which I want to share here. The topic is “Do You Believe SOA Related Projects Will Increase or Decrease in the Future?”. It reminded me of the initial pitch we developed to explain SOA, and with the continuing noise around “is SOA dead” I think that it is a good occasion to bring it up again.

I want to give credit to my past colleague Avishai Shafir (presently Director of Product Marketing at BluePhoenix), who came up with the idea of the analogy: Imagine a world in which we have to supply all our needs on our own… – that would set us deeply back in time, won’t you agree? If you think about it, modern society is based almost exclusively on services: Trade, Health, Transportation, Finance, … and these services are founded upon Specialization, Standardization, Regulation and Scalability, among others. Come to think of it, we live in a SOA! Yet in the IT world, we’re still very much in the primitive autarchic era in which every solution/application has to supply all its needs on its own. Now, imagine how far could Business Technology (that’s the next thing beyond IT) evolve with SOA and ubiquitous services – may be as far or even beyond what modern human society achieved by building on a SOA.

So let me supplement this with a question of mine – Do you agree to the statement that we are living in SOA?


Dark Clouds, SOA Obituaries, and how many angels can dance on the tip of a pin

McKinzey published a few days ago a report on Cloud Computing, trying to pin down the definition of Cloud Computing and highlight its economics, in particular when comparing holistic approaches – the cost of an on-premise data center (hardware and infrastructure, if I understood correctly) compared to the cost of the same facility in the Cloud (Amazon in this case). One of their conclusion is that above a certain size, Cloud is more expensive than On-premise.

Last January, Anne Thomas Manes published her famous blog post titled “SOA Is Dead”, claiming that most SOA projects failed to deliver the promised benefits or worse. Unlike McKinzey, she did not go into a lengthy discussion of defining SOA, but the title was enough to unleash a storm in our industry.

The question I ask myself and others is how much of the commotion is for internal consumption of the experts, and how much of it really matters to those who consume the stuff and end up footing the bill.

I do not know personally IT professionals who conducted a SOA project in order to implement a SOA. I do know people who chose to use SOA principles and applied them going forward, sometimes having to retrofit and sometimes transforming, taking advantage of the service orientation and cleaner design. So what’s in the statement “SOA Is Dead” beyond provocative semantics and a great opportunity for industry experts to express themselves?

Now comes the “dark cloud” commotion, with a very similar effect. I would be very surprised if a large company would simply go along with the generic McKinsey report and use it for decision making without a serious subjective evaluation.

My point? Let’s not waste energy on debating theology, and use that to make concepts more understandable and share experience and best practices.