Are you ready for 'green SOA'?

The IT industry has been increasingly moving toward greener practices in order to cut costs and consumption, and adopting SOA is seen as the next step

All of a sudden "green" is the "in" color. In 2007 the IT industry embraced the green data center concept. What followed was an avalanche of PR from vendor after vendor claiming that they were greener than their competitors.

Although not yet a global phenomenon, the green data center movement is rampant in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. A corporate social conscience? No. A corporate economic conscience? Yes. From CIOs to purchasing managers, the belief that a green IT infrastructure reduces recurring expenses has become self-evident.

Now, in 2008, we are about to take the next major corporate step in going green. No better architecture can be used as a foundation for this next step than SOA.

Based upon recent studies, the overall corporate adoption rate of SOA is 64 per cent, with the most important decision issues being business case justification and ROI. Couple this with the fact that 56 per cent of corporate adopters cite lack of key process and architecture skills as implementation inhibitors.

What we have in 2008 with respect to SOA are basic business issues, not technology issues. In fact, today, over 70 per cent of SOA adoption/implementation rationale is business driven, vs. 30 per cent in 2006. Technology may never again be the driving force in the corporate decision process, but in SOA it will always be the implementation mechanism. Therefore, to correctly "green" the corporation we must "green" SOA.

If we look at a typical SOA framework we see that one of the key elements is the business process. Supporting these processes are a host of services that allow life-cycle control from inception to implementation to monitoring to optimization to governance.

Simplistically, green SOA allows us to blend green concepts subliminally and in a symbiotic manner into corporate business processes. This is a win-win for the corporation. Green SOA allows a corporation to minimize economic demand (such as rising cost for energy, raw materials and waste disposal), satisfy customer and stakeholder demand (such as environmental, social, competitive and market concerns) and compliance (such as regulatory requirements, global treaty enforcement and legal constraints).

Over time there will be numerous approaches to applying green philosophies to SOA. Right now the "thunder" belongs to IBM. What started as a suggestion has become a major strategic and product initiative! To effectively green the corporation, IBM believes that one must address people, processes, assets, information, infrastructure and communications/application connectivity.

No architecture changes were required by IBM to SOA. But additions to the concepts of policy and metrics were required to "green" SOA. IBM seized upon the business concepts of carbon emission management for policy and linked it to a metric called a key performance indicator (KPI) as a base for what it calls Green Sigma.

Classically, KPIs are financial and nonfinancial metrics used to help organizations define and measure progress toward organizational goals. Apply that concept to carbon management and we green SOA.

IBM's Green Sigma is a five-step process that begins with 1) the definition of KPIs; 2) establishing a baseline for measurement and metering; 3) deploying a carbon management dashboard console; 4) process optimization; and 5) management/compliance. Carbon management is a dynamic real-time concept that utilizes dashboards to benchmark performance, measure, control and optimize carbon KPI's and finally to track and account for carbon credits.

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