Transcending SOA: OMG Announces Business Ecology Initiative (BEI)
This month the Object Management Group (OMG) announced the "Business Ecology Initiative" (BEI) with IBM as Founding Sponsor. BEI "is focused on erasing the artificial lines between business and Information Technology (IT) so that IT becomes a ubiquitous, integral and vital asset to the company and leads decision-making, structural change and enterprise-wide quality initiatives, drives efficiency and revenue, and provides measurable, clear return on investment. OMG intends to ground the BEI in the Actionable Architecture™, which provides details on how to create sustainable business processes.
In the announcement, OMG describes BEI as:
"more than just the mechanics of process optimization; it's a way of thinking about your business processes that eliminates the outdated concepts of business and IT silos or stovepipes and focuses on the benefits of ubiquitous IT," said Richard Mark Soley. "We look forward to working with IBM and other interested organizations on promoting Business Ecology as a way to streamline operations, remove waste, survive in difficult economic times and thrive in the recovery to come."
IBM, as founding sponsor, further states: "Business Ecology will help provide the next milestone in support of IBM's focus for improved Business/IT alignment as a key element in long term client success."
The BEI is in its formative stages and plans to "conduct outreach and advocacy programs around Business Ecology and the Actionable Architecture." OMG will work with IBM to create a "Business Ecology Advisory Panel," comprised of leading CEOs, CIOs, COOs, Analysts and Visionaries from both technical and business backgrounds.
At the core of BEI is the vision of an Actionable Architecture™:
"As business and IT move closer to a convergence then ever before, we must approach transparency with an even broader view. Business will access technology resources not just through a common infrastructure or application platform, but also through a transparent business methodology. ... This requires IT to no longer be viewed as a utility but rather as an integral and vital asset to the company. IT must lead quality initiatives, drive efficiency and revenue, and provide measurable, clear return on investment. ... To support this role, it’s not enough to merely use technology as a means to an end, but rather as a driving force of the business. The business must have access to all the necessary underlying architecture it requires from IT without effect to the business services it needs to supply."
An Actionable Architecture is expected to deliver a number of benefits to the enterprise, including: quality, efficiency, compliance, agility, scale, reuse, leverage, value, effectiveness, optimization, and sustainability.
The preceding list of benefits is almost identical to the benefits that were supposed to be delivered by SOA, BPM, and even Object Orientation. The OMG sees BEI as an amalgamation of earlier technologies, like SOA, and plans to "use its proven ability to bring communities together and motivate new initiatives through offerings beyond standards work and into industry collaboration forums such as:
- SOA Consortium: A community of business analysts and IT end-users dedicated to sharing experiences to maximize the effective transition to a Service Oriented Enterprise.
- BPM Consortium: A community of business analysts and IT end-users dedicated to sharing experiences to maximize the performance of business processes.
- GCIO: A community of business analysts and IT end-users dedicated to promoting and implementing sustainable business practices.
In addition OMG intends to work on supporting standards and maturity models, including:
- BPMM:A standardized methodology for measuring an organization’s success at adopting BPM for process efficiency across the enterprise.
- Green Computing Maturity Model (GCMM): A set of standard business practices to measure against organizational business practices to maximize efficiency and minimize environmental footprint for sustainability.
- Architecture Driven Modernization: A set of standards for modeling legacy systems so that they may be readily connected to and transitioned to more modern systems methodologies and technologies, and related standards for optimizing software assurance and software quality.
- Software Defined Radio: A set of standards to allow a wide array of different communication technologies to interoperate in the field on an as-needed basis without predefined interoperability.
- SysML™ Modeling Language: A shared standard language for defining large, complex systems so that they may be effectively designed, optimized and combined.
Each of the above bullet items could, in itself be an ambitious undertaking. Combining them into a single initiative promises to generate numerous challenges and opportunities.
In its entirety, BEI is less a combination of existing technologies like SOA and BPM. BEI should be seen as a means of transcending those technological and methodological solutions to achieve something that is greater than the whole. BEI should transcend SOA and similar efforts and initiatives.
The reader can expect a lot of news originating from the various BEI communities in both the near and long term future.