Thursday, December 1, 2005

An interview with IBM’s Chris Lamb on WebSphere Portal SOA

THE DOMINOPOWER INTERVIEW

By David Gewirtz

Just before Thanksgiving, I interviewed Chris Lamb, IBM's Worldwide Market Manager for IBM WebSphere Portal. In this short question and answer session, Chris discusses Service Oriented Architectures and why SOA is important.

David:

Please introduce yourself and explain your role at IBM.

Chris:

Hi, I'm Chris Lamb and I'm Worldwide Market Manager for IBM WebSphere Portal. My role is to understand the customer requirements that are driving the $1B/year portal software market so IBM can continue its leadership position in that market with WebSphere Portal.

David:

We've heard the term SOA bandied about with abandon recently. What exactly is an SOA and what does it mean?

Chris:

Service Oriented Architecture is a methodology designed to help customers integrate diverse services and applications and create secure, standardized components that can be reused and combined to address changing market dynamics.

David:

How is SOA different (or similar) to object-oriented programming? Aren't we dealing with objects communicating in both approaches?

Chris:

Object-oriented programming and SOA are used to address some of the same goals: code reuse and simplifying the complexity of modern systems. However, today's systems are more distributed, which drives requirements for lighter protocols, platform independence and loosely coupled components. Therefore, SOA expands upon the componentization concepts of object-oriented programming by utilizing standard service interfaces, Internet protocols and services that are more independent.

David:

SOA seems like another Very Big Idea. But isn't the idea that there are lots of little, easy to manage components all talking together?

Chris:

I agree that it is a big idea, but not "another" one. The idea of componentization has been around for a long time -- it is now just easier to implement across systems using standards such as Web Services and XML.

David:

Let's talk about some real-world SOA applications. Help us picture the dynamics of the system and how everything interacts.

Chris:

A common place we see SOA applications used is with a company's channel partners, such as brokers for an insurance company or parts suppliers for manufacturing. In these situations, business processes can be componentized and executed by the appropriate party. These situations also fit the SOA model well because the relationships and the processes executed by the channel partners are distributed and can change frequently. For the insurance firm scenario, they would be able to provide policy price quotes, automobile claims, and policy application service to their brokers and adjust those services based on changing rates, risk and demographics.