eGov Enterprise Architecture Conference

Before David Chappell injured himself in a water skiing accident, I was to have shared the podium with him yesterday at the eGov Enterprise Architecture Conference and Exhibition in Washington. (And I must say Ronald Regan certainly has a nice building named after him.)
Bill Wood ably filled in for Dave, and Dave managed to help finish up the presentation, even if we were working on it at the last minute ;-).
It was a 3-hour tutorial on understanding SOA and government applications. Bill and I took turns. The way we divided it up I started by talking generally about SOA, then Bill gave a generic description of the Enterprise Service Bus.
I don’t want to start another argument but I thought it only fair that Sonic got to talk about the ESB since if they didn’t invent the term they certainly at least have done the most to promote it.
After that we each took turns talking about our respective technical solutions to the requirements of SOA infrastructure – this is the easiest and best way to summarize what an ESB is. But the devil is in the details and Sonic and IONA have implemented the ESB concept in different ways. And that was what we each took a turn explaining.
At the end of the session we raffled off two copies of my book, Understanding SOA with Web Services and Dave’s book on the ESB (which complement each other nicely by the way).
Judging from the questions we got, I would say that a lot of government agencies are still struggling a bit with how to approach an SOA the best way. I got the same impression at the Deutsche Post conference in Germany. My feeling is that we (as an industry) have gone past the stage at which the idea of an SOA is debated (i.e. is it a good thing or not) and we are now at the stage where we are debating the best way forward.
One final comment here: wouldn’t it be a great thing if all vendors could agree on a common definition of an ESB? And just start creating value add on top of it?
One thing that may help is the collaboration with Sonic and others in the Synapse open source project. Between that and the Celtix open source project (which just reached its first milestone by the way), and our various collaboration in standards bodies, perhaps we will get closer to that point.

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