DevOps Leadership with Jason Bloomberg Exc#1: Agile Architecture and SOA



At the heart of DevOps, Agile and other things is the focus on making business more adaptable, more agile, more immediately productive. Really, folks, if your business isn’t adaptive, it cannot last (cue the oft-quoted Deming: survival is not mandatory).


Patrick Debois, the Godfather of DevOps, once said he originally considered calling it “agile infrastructure” but, after testing the wording out in community meetings and not getting many takers, well, you know, it just doesn’t sound as catchy as “DevOps”. . . history has proven him correct.


Jason’s recent book is about the agile architecture revolution (probably guess that from the title, huh). In addition to being in the heart of DevOps topics, Jason also brings a very refreshing quirky, confident and engaging perspective on it all.

This was particularly refreshing to me as 2013 has definitely become the year of sparkly “Now with DevOps!” buttons and banners as company after company buys technology or re-labels existing stuff to be, in the minds of their marketing folk, DevOps-y.

But remember: marketing folks wishing for something doesn’t make it so. Jason’s a great guy to remind us all of that truth and more.




Jason Bloomberg:  Agile Architecture is about how the changing approaches to enterprise IT enabled organizations as a whole to be more agile.  And what you need to do in the context of all of the different trans-enterprise IT today – cloud computing and agile approaches to software architecture and mobile computing and all of the other organizational trends, including DevOps, and how do you leverage all of these and put them together to achieve greater agility in your organization?


[I’d been with a start-up that had] been focused on service-oriented architecture for a number of years now.  We were very early to the SOA game, you know, with our book, “XML and Web Services Unleashed” came out back in 2001, wrote the chapter on architecture for that.


Middle of last decade, we really focused on helping vendors understand how to put SOA in their marketing, judged our focus to be the enterprise architect, enterprise practitioner, helping architects and large organizations understand SOA and how it can provide benefits to their organization.


But the challenge with SOA – you know, here it is, the mid-2010s now – is it’s had a rather mixed success story.  On the one hand, a lot of organizations were able to implement SOA and achieve more flexible IT capabilities, but, on the other hand, a lot of them spent a whole lot of money on middleware and got lost in some of the organizational challenges, the governance challenges, and didn’t really get the value they were looking for.


So what’s happening now in the 2010s is organizations are looking to take that to the next level.  Can we learn the lessons of the 2000s?  You know, what did work with SOA, building loosely coupled services, but move beyond the heavyweight, middleware-centric, centralized Web services-based approach to more lighter-weight approach.  And that leads to the notion of agile architecture, right?  What are the best parts of SOA?  And how can we incorporate those with cloud computing and mobile technologies to provide greater agility?


Basically, the promise – how can we realize the promise of SOA, where in the 2000s we only were able to do that in part.  Now we want to take that to the next level.


[It’s important to realize] SOA all along was really more of an architectural approach than a technology approach, but the big vendors basically jumped onboard and, you know, repositioned SOA as an excuse to sell middleware.  They took all this old middleware they had and slapped Web services on it, called it an ESB, and then you end up with all these different ESBs in the market.  Companies would buy those.  They wouldn’t have the architecture properly worked out, and they wouldn’t achieve the benefits they were looking for.  They ended up with traditional integration with Web services and no SOA to be found.  And a lot of organizations sort of got steered the wrong way by – you know, by the big vendors in the – you know, the big analyst firms who said buy the big middleware.


So the missing part are really the organizational and best practice part of the architecture.  What do we need to do in order to achieve greater agility in terms of governance, in terms of organizational change, right?  Having technology alone doesn’t give you the agility.  It’s having powerful tools – if you don’t know how to use them or they’re just dangerous, it’s like giving power tools to children — you don’t want to do that, right?


So what we have today: we have increasingly powerful tools, right?  Our phones are more powerful.  Our servers are more powerful. Cloud computing gives us IT capabilities at our fingertips.  And people aren’t using them properly, don’t know how to use them, and, as a result, organizations are running into a whole new set of issues that are more governance and organizational and less about the technology.



Jason Bloomberg’s Summary page is here.

These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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