Friday, October 8, 2010

Highlights from the SOA Symposium

Tuesday October 5th and Wednesday October 6th, the third edition of the SOA & Cloud symposium took place in Berlin. The location was really nice: at Alexander Platz, close to the train station and with plenty of hotels in the vicinity of the conference center.

I presented the case study Service Orientation in the Dutch Government.But I also attended many interesting sessions and talked to interesting people.

Build schools not prisons

The session Deriving Agility from SOA and BPM – Ten Things That Separate the Winners from the Losers, by Manas Deb and Clemens Utschig-Utschig was a very pleasant suprise. Instead of using agility as a buzz word to justify SOA and BPM, they actually spent time to explain what they mean by an agile organization. They used the sense-and-respond model by Haeckel for this. Then they proceeded to explain the things that separate the winners from the losers, with clear examples that people could relate to. A solid presentation, with some nice one-liners for the twittering audience (my tweet “governance: build schools, not prisons” in the heading came from this presentation)

BPM: Top Seven Architectural Discussions in 2010, touched upon a number of interesting topics. A highlight for me: most of the ‘business beef’(value) in BPM projects comes from the task flow level, optimizing the human tasks. This ties in nicely with the Approach vision about the need for user experience in solutions ;-)

The last session I attended the first day was Open Source Process Execution. Unfortunately, only two delegates were attending: someone from ASR and me. The talk was really on Activiti, an open source project that looks very promising. Coincidently, I ran into again someone who was using that in a meeting today. So the stuff I learned was already useful the same week!

Look bored if you already know this

Ralph Schafermeier talked about corporate semantic web: Corporate Semantic Web – The Semantic Web Meets the Enterprise. He started with an introduction of semantic web, and announced that he would skip it if we looked bored. This introduction was good. The only bad thing was there were a couple of people in the room, they wanted every definition to be phrased ‘exactly right’. This took up valuable time. I guess this is to be expected from semantic web people, to discuss semantics :-( . It distracted the attention from the real topic: application of this concept to BPM and CEP. Ralph showed a really interesting concept of adding semantic web annotations in BPMN models. This sounds to me as a very powerful concept that we will hear much more about in the future. If you want to check it out right now visit the Oryx site here. I did not look bored during this session, on the contrary!

BPM with REST, investigated if and how REST can be applied in an BPM engine. This is very interesting from a perspective of change management and creating more flexible interactions than with ‘traditional ‘ WSDL based integration. Solid speaker, solid presentation. Again an interesting research topic that will become applicable in the future. Maybe in case management this is a much better solution than in orchestration? I am still thinking about the concepts…

The last session I attended was Modern SOA Infrastructure and Open Source by Mark Little. This was not a very compelling story; personally I believe there are plenty of use cases where Open Source infrastructure is more than a viable option. However, the reasoning that was used in this presentation was full of circular logic: the definition of open is that the code is open source. Therefore Oracle can’t claim they are ‘open’. Or: “open source is built by real world developers”, as if closed sourced developers are not in the real world?!? This was I think a missed opportunity: it was based on prejudice and I doubt he convinced anybody who was not already convinced of the value of open source infrastructure.

All in all a great two days, and I even went home with a helicopter from the Oracle stand!