If you promise not to laugh I’ll tell you a little secret: for many years I have been interested in the ancient art (if art it be) of the Runes as a guide to life, the universe and everything. Most people use them as a guide to their personal lives. Some people put far too much faith in them.
But it recently struck me that people in industry put similar amounts of faith in the outpourings of the market and technology analysts which, despite all their talk of models and methodologies are just modern rune-reading diviners – or should that be guessers? The only difference is that their runes are made of mangled numbers rather than bits of wood and bone.
So why not use an ancient divination `technology’ - the Runes – in a new context such as answering important questions about IT technologies, markets, models and trends. For example, how about one important question of the moment: is the way IBM and HP are buying up SOA-related technology as fast as they can going to be a benefit to users in the future?
At the moment the SOA business is the mixture of apparent certainty displayed by these companies about what should be happening and where it is all going, set against the confusion that seems to exist in the minds of both users and the wider community of vendors that are, or which claim to be, providers of `SOA solutions’. This actually shows through in the two runes that turned up representing the recent past, and the present.
For the Recent Past there came Sowilo, the Sun Rune, which denotes power and strength. That which you want may be attained. It also denotes mental clarity and added warmth to your relationships.
Here is that recent past of IBM and HP in the SOA arena, giving the subject plenty of sunshine, talking it up to anyone who will listen, and with sufficient clarity in their own corporate minds that they do attract the interest of quite a few potential customers. At least the customers are not rejecting it out of hand.
For the Present came Isa, the Ice Rune. This represents stagnation and a passionless existence. In practice, it shows that your life's course may seem blurry at the moment, but if you persevere you will move onto better days.
Well, if that doesn’t sum up the current state of play in the SOA world I don’t know what does? Despite the talk there is not too much happening, with a fair amount of sitting on hands and fences by the customers. The way in which SOA will develop as an operation component of a business infrastructure is still not clear for many of them; though if they don’t turn their back and run away from it there should be valuable results to be had. In the case of IBM and HP, it is possible to see both as casting around in the blurry course of their lives, snapping up anything that might help give some clarity. Their collective need to persevere will show itself in the effort they will need to put into making the acquisitions gel into a working whole.
It has to be said that, normally speaking, both companies are pretty tenacious at the persevering business and an indicator of the consequences for both the vendors and their customers may well be seen in the rune for the near future.
This is Othala, which represents a solid, immovable home, prosperity and safety. Good fortune based on your heritage and character is yours to enjoy.
God in heaven, does that mean the old adage – no one ever got sacked for buying IBM – may still hold true? Well, let’s face it, for any user to move into an SOA-based infrastructure will be taking steps that are well beyond the scope of mere `technology’ – and smart-ass new technologies are all most of the other vendors are offering. This the same old dance in which the IT industry indulges: if in doubt, buy something new and shiney.
The technology is important, but it is a minor part compared to understanding business models, the integration of those models and the technology and range of other factors. The likes of IBM and HP are amongst the few companies – the solid, immoveable ones – that actually have the depth of understanding across both camps to build the necessary bridges. That is why they are buying in technology now – and I would expect to see them starting to discard the unwanted or superfluous bits over the next three or four years. Not all of what they have bought will be needed for those bridges, but to claim that they know now which are the relevant technologies to keep would be little short of guesswork.
As for the Distant Future, there is the Rune Gebo, which represents the coming of gifts and favours which can also carry obligations. This rune often represents strong bonds such as deep friendships and marriage.
Whichever vendor an enterprise chooses as its primary contractor for any move into serious SOA it will have to be for the long haul – this is not popping into the supermarket for a can of beans. These relationships will be like marriages – and no doubt with the same ups and downs. Any business relationship like that can bring seriously good gifts and favours, both for the vendor and customer, but it sure as hell will bring some serious and ongoing obligations. The SOA vendor will become increasingly embedded as a part of the business infrastructure of its customer, with a degree of mutual dependency that may go further than either party has experienced before. So the vendors that have the depth of technology on which to build solutions that meet every users’ needs, and operate within a culture that understands a wide range of different business practices and how to service them, is best placed to meet the needs of the marketplace.
There: some of those analyst companies would charge you $250,000 for that.