Expert Insight: Fralick’s Technology Insights


By Mark Fralick, Technology Editor, Supply Chain Digest


  May 31 , 2007  

SOA: Walking the Walk, or Just the Talk?


If Supply Chain Software Vendors Use Their Own SOA Tools to Build Functionality, That’s a Good Sign; New SCDigest Product Review Feature; On Tap: i2’s Business Content Library

Fralick Says:
Instead, SOA can only be embraced as a long term, multi-year plan aligned with other product improvements and re-engineering efforts. 

What do you say? Send us your comments here

In the software world, we call it “Eating our own dog food”.  This rather gross metaphor refers to a software company that uses its own software tools to actually develop the end user applications.  When we use it ourselves, it is thought, it just makes the product better.

The problem with eating one’s own dog food always comes back to “Will dogs eat it too?”  In other words, do the tools have a more universal appeal?  But, when it comes to Services Oriented Architectures (SOA) there is a more important way to think about it: “Does the supply chain software vendor really walk the walk?” or just “Walk the talk?”

Walking the Walk when it comes to SOA simply means this:  The software company has made the shift from SOA being something their software can do to what the software really is.  In other words, the vendor has taken the step to actually build functional portions of their system using the same tools and technologies that make them SOA capable. 

Sometimes, as a new software application space emerges you will see a lot of SOA capable packages from the outset, as the companies have no historical development baggage. We’ve seen this, for example, in the RFID software area. A lot of these packages were designed from scratch, using the most modern component-oriented development techniques or with the concept of “services” specifically in mind. 

When you look at products or categories that have been around for a long time, however, it is hard to get from there to here with regards to SOA.  So, by necessity, the vendor needs to migrate in thoughtful steps.  Typically, it takes a lot more than minor releases or product add-ons.  Instead, SOA can only be embraced as a long term, multi-year plan aligned with other product improvements and re-engineering efforts. Not easy.

Which is why I recently offered a tongue-in-cheek scorecard for cutting through the vendor SOA hype and trying to determine what’s real (See SOA It Isn't So. . ., Supply Chain Software: InfoWorld Blogger Likes Our SOA Scorecard, Offers His Own Alternative).

We’re going to be looking at this topic over a series of commentaries and – drum roll please – a new product review feature in Supply Chain Digest. While we’re going to be reviewing products across the entire spectrum of supply chain software, hardware and services, we’ll be devoting special attention to SOA.

First out of the shoot is a product offering from i2 called the Business Content Library (BCL), built on its SOA platform. We’ll offer a detailed review next week, but in a quick preview, I’d say i2 is definitely walking the walk with its approach.

As an SOA evangelist, that’s great to see. Look for my review of i2’s BCL next week, and my blog and reviews on supply chain technology on an on-going basis.

Agree or disgree with our expert's perspective? What would you add? Let us know your thoughts for publication in the SCDigest newsletter Feedback section, and on the web site. Upon request, comments will be posted with the respondent's name or company withheld.

  Send an Email