Interview with Steve Jones

, Sep 26, 2007

In a new InfoQ interview, recorded at QCon London, Steve Jones head of SOA for Global Outsourcing at Cap Gemini, explains the ideas behind his concept of a "business service architecture", first outlined in his book  "Enterprise SOA Adoption Strategies".

Steve’s perspective is interesting because he sees SOA as a concept that is mostly a change of mind, a different view of IT and its organization, rather than a technology issue. His views, while often somewhat provocative, clearly stem from a lot of experience gained in customer projects.

Some choice quotes:

Historically IT has been more not as much driving the business but leading it into a pit of despair.

On IT as an architectural profession:

IT really is a paleontology profession, rather than an architectural profession. When we are in support, which is what we do a lot in outsourcing, you can see what the company was doing in 1985, you can see what it was doing in 1990, you can see what is was doing in 1995, and it’s just layer upon layer upon layer of systems on top of them.

On "shadow IT":

I think a big change is the rise of situation applications, participation applications, the web 2.0 pieces. The fact that the business is more and more taking these previous Excel generation of applications and wanting to run them on the existing IT estate, this currently called "shadow IT" which is a significant proportion of IT, is business aligned; it’s based clearly on the business objectives, it’s done by the business themselves or by surrogate IT inside the business. […]Traditional IT has two choices: it can either move purely into a support role, and a commodity development role, or it can recognize the challenge and really start to move into what is now shadow IT.

Other topics covered include how to apply SOA to existing systems, the problems one runs into when SOA is driven by technology, the structural and organizational impact of business-driven SOA, and motivating both providing and consuming services. Steve also makes the case for adopting the OASIS SOA Reference Model, which he help standardizing.

Watch the interview (18 minutes).

This is the next one in the series of interviews I did at QCon (after Anne Thomas Manes and Jim Webber). I often disagree with Steve, especially regarding his views on REST, but I have lots of respect for his high-level SOA point of view.