Week 2 of the European SOA Architect Forum series

by David A. Chappell

This week’s round of SOA Architect Forums began in London with over 100 attendees! We then traveled to Milan, and ended the week in Utrecht, Netherlands. I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop in Amsterdam reflecting on the events of the week.

The attendance at these forums has been averaging between 80 and 100. The quality of the audience at these events continues to be extremely high, with most people being Sr. level architects who are responsible for defining and delivering a SOA strategy for their organization. Its interesting to note that a year ago, when I asked the audience for a show of hands on who is actively involved in a SOA related project for teir company, I would get about 10% of the audience. Now when I ask the same question I get almost everyone in the room raising their hands. The intensity of the questions and depth of their inquiries indicates that they are keenly interested in what is being presented and discussed at the forum.

This week we had some special guest speakers from one of Sonic’s sister companies, Mark Palmer and Giles Nelson of the Progress Real Time Division, who explained the Progress Apama Event Stream Processing (ESP) engine. The ESP engine can provide real time analysis and recognition of complex patterns within an event stream. The Apama engine takes it one level beyond BAM dashboarding in that it allows for the creation of scenarios that take an autoamtic course of action based on scripted rules which are specified by the visual tools of the Apama workbench. The event stream in the context of our discussions was of course the Enterprise Service Bus.

In London we also had a guest speaker from British Telecom, who talked about their adoption of ESB based on a thorough evaluation of SOA enablement approaches. He then talked about some of the projects they were working on (more on this to come).

In Milan we had a guest speaker from Telecom Italia, who told a similar story about their adoption of ESB as a means for building SOA. I was in an out of Milan so fast I didn’t even get to sample any Gelato! If you ever go to Italy, you must try this stuff. It looks like ice cream but it is like eating a cloud. Nowhere else in the world have I been able to find the stuff quite like the real thing. Real Gelato is light and fluffy, and served chilled or at room temperature. The non-authentic stuff is usually like ice cream. I did however, get to sample plenty of Italian espresso, which IMO is the best in the world.

Anyhow, back to the SOA Architect Forum series - Finally in Utrecht, Netherlands, we had several special guest speakers. The morning started with a discussion of the Business-IT Case for SOA adoption by Cor Baars of Cibit. This was followed by an overview of SOA with an introduction of ESB by Professor Mike Papazoglou of Tilburg University. (Mike is working on his next book on SOA, a part of which I reviewed. Its turning out to be really a big book, but it is quite good).

We then had presentations from 3 Sonic customers who talked about their adoption of SOA -
"Designing an EAI Architecture" by Dennis Attinger, Philips International
"A Green Oriented Architecture" by Harry Geelen, The Greenery
"Bookmarket Becomes Supermarket" by Jan Vink, Boekhandels Groep Nederland

Last but not least was a presentation by yours truly on the architectural components of an ESB and how an ESB enables an organization to accelerate the adoption of SOA across their extended enterprise.

We usually have a roundtable discussion where we get the audience members to share with their peers the issues they are facing and solving with regard to adopting SOA in their organization. In the Utrecht event, there were so many presenters there wasn’t time to do that. I still feel that the audience got equally as much value out of this forum because there were so many customers talking about their real projects.

Since my arm is finally starting to recover from recent surgery, I was able to do a book signing for 90+ people at the end of the day's events.

In the midst of all this, Mark and I also did quite a few press interviews on a recently announced SOA Maturity Model. Next week, its on to Zurich and Stockholm, then its back to Boston to check in at HQ!