What To Do When your SOA Initiative Gets Cancelled
We at ZapThink are an idealistic and optimistic bunch. We tend to see the positive side of well thought-out IT initiatives and believe that when rational planning meets incremental expenditure that provides short-term returns, all is well and companies can sail smoothly ahead. However, we realize that is not the reality for most companies. In the current economic climate, companies are giving the axe to those half-planned efforts that spent tremendous sums up front to show little to no returns well past their promised milestones. Even well-planned, rational initiatives that met distinct business pain-points and used iterative approaches and incremental expenditures justified only when short-term business goals are met also got their proverbial plugs pulled.   While we spent almost a decade trying to help you avoid this outcome by ingraining the Service-oriented style of enterprise architecture as a core tenet of dealing with continuous change, we know that for…

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Is there a Future for Enterprise Software?
The conversation about the role and future of enterprise software is a continuous undercurrent in the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) conversation. Indeed, ZapThink’s been talking about the future of enterprise software in one way or another for years. So, why bother bringing up this topic again, at this juncture? Has anything changed in the marketplace? Can we learn something new about where enterprise software is heading? The answer is decidedly yes to the latter two questions, and this might be the right time to seriously consider acting on the very things we’ve been talking about for a while.   The first major factor is significant consolidation in the marketplace for enterprise software. While a decade or so ago there were a few dozen large and established providers of different sorts of enterprise software packages, there are now just a handful of large providers, with a…

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Private Clouds: A Valuable Concept or Buzzword Bingo?
Every once in a while, the machinery of marketing goes haywire and starts labeling all manner of things with inappropriate terminology. The general rationale of most marketers is that if there’s a band wagon rolling along somewhere and gaining some traction in the marketplace, it’s best to jump on it while it’s rolling. After all, much of the challenge of marketing products is getting the attention of your target customer in order to get an opportunity to pitch products or services to them. Of course, if it doesn’t work with one band wagon, as the old adage goes, try, try again. This is why we often see the same products marketed with different labels and categories applied to them. Sure, the vendors will insist that they have indeed developed some new add-on or tweaked a user interface to include the new concept front and center, but at the very core…

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The Dissolution of the Rich Internet Application (RIA) Market
Traditional market research focuses on the size and growth of well-defined market segments. As vendors enter and compete in those markets, customers participate by purchasing products and services within those segments, and market research seeks to establish the patterns of such transactions in order to predict the future trends for such markets. In the Information Technology (IT) space, however, many markets are transitory in that as new technologies and behavior patterns emerge, what might formerly have been separate markets vying for customer dollars merge into a single market in order to address evolving customer needs. Over time these separately identifiable markets lose their distinct identity, as products and customer demand both mature. The Rich Internet Application (RIA) market is certainly no exception to this pattern of market behavior.   As we originally covered in a ZapFlash back in 2004, a Rich Internet Application combines elements of rich user interactivity…

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Understanding the Value of Reference Architectures
There’s nothing more that architects love to do than argue about definitions. If you ever find yourself with idle time in a room of architects, try asking for a definition of “Service” or “architecture” and see what sort of creative melee you can start. That being said, definitions are indeed very important so that we can have a common language to communicate the intent and benefit of the very things we are trying to convince business to invest in. From that perspective, a number of concepts have emerged in the past decade or so that have become top of mind for self-styled enterprise architects: architecture frameworks and reference architectures. In previous ZapFlashes, we discussed architecture frameworks, which leaves the topic of reference architectures left untouched by ZapThink. Since we can’t leave a good argument behind, we’re going to use this ZapFlash to explore what reference architectures are all…

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Cloud Governance: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed…
As we predicted earlier in the year, Cloud computing is starting to take hold, especially if you believe the marketing literature of vendors and consulting firms. Yet, we are seeing an increasing number of Cloud success stories, ranging from simplistic consumption of utility Services and offloading of compute resources to the sort of application and process clouds we discussed in a previous ZapFlash. Perhaps the reason why usage of the Cloud is still nascent in the enterprise is because of an increasing chorus of concerns being voiced about the usage of Cloud resources: Cloud availability. Cloud security. Erosion of data integrity. Data replication and consistency issues. Potential loss of privacy. Lack of auditing and logging visibility. Potential for regulatory violations. Application sprawl & dependencies. Inappropriate usage of Services. Difficulty in managing intra-Cloud, inter-Cloud, and Cloud and non-Cloud interactions and resources. And that’s just the short list.

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Who's Architecting the Cloud?
As the hype cycle for the cloud computing continues to gather steam, an increasing number of end users are starting to see the silver lining, while others are simply lost in the fog. It is clear that the debate over the definition, business model, and benefits of cloud will continue for some time, but it is also clear that the sluggish economic environment is increasing the appeal of having someone else pay for the robust infrastructure needed to run one’s applications. Yet, all this talk of leveraging cloud capabilities, or perhaps even building one’s own cloud, whether for public or private consumption, introduces thorny problems. How can we make sure that the cloud will bring us closer to the heavenly vision of IT we search for rather than a fog that hides a complex mess? Who will make sure that the cloud vision isn’t just another reinterpretation of…

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Preventing the Demise of the IT Department
ZapThink has long championed the role of Information Technology (IT) and the information technologists that turn IT resources into capabilities. However, we are especially champions of the users of IT, notably the business. After all, if it weren’t for business users, there would be little funding and relevance for IT. Yet, we must distinguish between IT and the IT organization within the enterprise. Whereas IT represents the assets business wants to leverage, the IT department serves as an organizational structure by which the IT needs of the business can be met. Simply put, the IT department is a means to an end… or at least it should be. One of the frequently repeated complaints we’ve heard over our past nine years is that the IT department is increasingly non-responsive to changing business needs. Complexity, fragility, unpredictability, and unreliability all conspire to turn even the simplest of business requests for IT…

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Evolution of the Rich Internet Application Market
Market Overview ZapThink estimates that the total market for RIA will grow to over $700M by 2011. Adobe is currently the biggest and most experienced RIA player, but it faces serious challenges on multiple fronts, most notably open source solutions and Microsoft, with its relatively new Silverlight technology. Since 2006, ZapThink has seen substantial contraction in the RIA component submarket, elimination of the extensions submarket, and consolidation and expansion of the RIA environments submarket. Future Trends There is increasing demand for RIA capabilities in the enterprise, although people don’t identify the applications that leverage such capabilities as RIAs. Rather, RIA capabilities are features of many of those applications. As the line between browser-based and desktop-based applications blurs, and as approaches for abstracting functionality and information from user interfaces develop, other markets will eventually merge with the RIA market. Table of Contents Overview of the Rich Internet Application (RIA) Market The…

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SOA and TOGAF: A Good Fit?
By guest contributors Clive Hatton and Paul van der Merwe, Real IRM. Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a style of architecture and The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) is an architecture framework. The combination sounds promising, but do they play well together? The Open Group certainly believes they do — Open Group members have invested heavily in efforts to bring these two concepts together. Several members have contributed a great deal of their time and experience to the SOA/TOGAF Practical Guide project, one of many of the SOA Working Group’s projects in The Open Group. The SOA/TOGAF Practical Guide project aims to develop SOA specific extensions to the TOGAF Architecture Development Method (ADM) that lies at the heart of TOGAF. The idea behind this project is that if SOA is a style of architecture, then it’s possible to extend the style-independent method of the TOGAF ADM with…

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