SOAs key to ‘adaptive’ enterprise: Meta

Most IT pros are familiar with the buzz surrounding the 'adaptive, on-demand or N1' enterprise, but analysts warn vendors are painting a rosy view.

Be careful of vendors pushing utility computing in order to sell big iron, according to Meta's Asia Pacific research director Kevin McIsaac.

Ask them 'what's changed over the last two years', McIsaac said, urging caution over vendor interpretations of what an adaptive enterprise means.

“Things will become more modular and IT will move away from integrated applications to components and service-oriented architectures. The service orientated architecture (SOA) is going to be a key part of being adaptive," he said.

While the first phase of an adaptive approach to IT was with standards-based hardware, McIsaac said the next phase is services.

“Services will go right to the highest level of business, for example, payroll,” he said. “It’s not such a technology silver bullet but more like a paradigm shift. Enterprises need to understand where the needs for fixed and variable assets are. This includes hardware, software, and people.”

Speaking at Metamorphosis in Sydney last week, Meta's executive vice president Karen Rubenstrunk said IT must move towards SOA if the promised benefits of an adaptive enterprise are to be realised.

“CIOs are not chief process operators and the CIO is the one person that has an enterprise-wide view to understand the business changes,” Rubenstrunk said. “Virtualisation and grid technologies allow IT organisations to manage resources on demand and by 2010, 34 to 40 percent of IT resources will be on variable pricing contracts.”

Rubenstrunk said adaptive enterprises looks at retirement and reuse, and also focus on a highly streamlined infrastructure.

“We’ve gone through such a tightening down as we begin to loosen up we have no ability to respond to demands with current skill set [requirements],” she said. “How fast you can go will depend on how much risk your organisation can handle. Define a scope of organizational principles, strategic planning, governance and project planning, and enterprise architecture.”

Rubenstrunk cited “concurrent engineering” in the automobile industry as an example of the break up of components into standards-based pieces which are developed in parallel thereby driving more value in the market.

“We’re two to three years out but the faster the standards come the faster we can take advantage of them,” she said. “Developing the will to be adaptive involves looking at value, relationships, leadership, governance, change management and execution.”

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