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SOA? It’s A People Thing

Don’t get so excited about the technology

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The IT maintenance budget - typically 80 per cent of the total annual IT spend in most companies - is, he suggested, predominantly head count, so if that can be automated then users get two main benefits. “One is that those people can be reassigned from tasks that don't add business value to those that have more value-add,” he suggested, “and two is that it solves the problem of people doing repetitive jobs, getting bored and making mistakes. You can automate those tasks and do it accurately each time. It lowers the disruption, increases the best practices used, and lowers the cost.”

So HP is looking to automate areas such as change management, incident management and problem management, what Potts calls the lifecycle of IT services. He indicated that some announcements in this area can be expected at Software Universe in December with the arrival of some new modules within the OpenView management system.

Behind such developments is HP’s `worldview’ of SOA where such applications of technology are still a minor component. "We often talk about the IT part of SOA as the tip of the iceberg, the 20 per cent that can be seen. The other 80 per cent is people and processes," he said. "The key is in businesses having good governance policies in place that are based on business process policies and accepted standards."

The need for that is simple: there are some real penalties in not doing it. “Take Sarbanes-Oxley,” he said. “If your processes on how to manage the required checks and balances are not up to scratch there are real penalties involved. That's why the launch of the compliance module for OpenView. CIOs now want continuous assessment of compliance rather than spending a great deal of money collecting the required information in the last couple of weeks of every quarter. The module allows them to come to the auditor with the proof of following the processes. So it is a cost cutting thing.”

Another example of where technology will effectively be used to provide a management capability for SOA users is software licence management. There are many different licence models used by software vendors, but few of them are what could be called `SOA friendly’. It is a problem area of which Potts is well aware, but he sees HP’s role as providing a flexible measuring and reporting environment, rather than trying to impose a regime that favours either users or vendors, even if it did fit a readily available technical solution.

“I don't think it is our job to produce reports for users so that they can go and beat up the software vendors about usage, for example,” he said. “It is better for us to let the user and the vendor decide what their policy is on payment and then provide the tools to measure, manage and report on that.”®

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