Issues around modernizing IT infrastructure and assets

As I mentioned on a previous blog entry I have recorded a short webcast on Mainframe Modernization for Idevnews

This will be available later this month, but it is a big subject so I want to cover a number of the issues we touched on in the talk and some we didn’t get time to cover. First let’s look at the issue of services and service-enabling assets. Clearly the momentum seems to be that for most new developments that are to be a part of SOA it seems to be sensible to build these new assets as services rather than monolithic applications. However, given the vast majority of IT assets already exist, and are not going away or being replaced – and are not services – what does this mean for a business looking to move to an SOA?

Well SOA does not have to mean services or web services – SOA is an architectural approach rather than any technology or implementation. In fact that is what IBM tries to encourage –  to extend and expand a customer’s SOA goals to include systems which are not – and may never be subject to any reprogramming or redevelopment to change them to services assets. I don’t think there are any customers out there who are 100% SOA – there may never be.

SOA is still a good idea, and businesses seem to sometimes think that becoming service-enabled is the goal – this is wrong. Trying to improve the business by aligning IT with the business through an SOA approach is I think what businesses should be trying to do – that should help them to address the changing needs in this economy.

Now becoming more service enabled – either through modernizing assets directly – the Rational software approach, or by modernizing the infrastructure more than the assets – the WebSphere approach, can help get to this improvement – but just service enablement itself shouldn’t be the goal.

Now there are some people in business who see modernization of IT assets – and therefore reuse – are by some standards dull and the very opposite of innovation and exciting activities – but here’s the thing….think of existing assets as food leftovers in the fridge…..just eating leftovers can be unexciting, but the driver in SOA and modernizing and reusing assets is to use assets in combination with other assets. In the same way combining a few leftovers together can create a wonderful new meal. So service-enablement of assets themselves can be one way to further SOA progress – but the WebSphere approach of simplifying and service-enabling just the interfaces to the assets can be a much faster way to gain modern and reusable access to these assets.

There are of course a number of ways to service-enable these interfaces – WebSphere Message Broker has been able to do this for some time, but also WebSphere MQ can now service-enable interfaces as a part of the WMQ layer – simplifying the task of progress to SOA for business benefits.


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