I guess it’s a good litmus test. When I heard Jason Weisser, IBM’s Software Group VP for Enterprise Integration, discuss the other day with 30 Capgemini software engineers and architects what the real secret is of Service Oriented Architecture, he used this intriguing sentence: “there is no Spoon”.
Is it Plato? Buddha? The Bible? Alice in Wonderland?
Well, all of that. Sort of. Jason puzzled almost the entire audience, but I was lucky enough to have two teenage kids that force me to watch every cool pop movie you can possibly think of (how’s that for a justification…). So I recognized this phrase from The Matrix instantaneously. The Matrix is a movie filled with useful quotes, including ‘Knock, Knock, Neo’, ‘Follow the White Rabbit’ and of course ‘Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability’.

If you have never heard of the Matrix, then I’m sorry. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. You may want to Google it, which is perfectly legal now, for that matter. Suffice to say that the world in this movie turns out to be one big virtual reality, in which nothing is what it seems. Including the spoons.
Jason brought up something that I have been noting for quite some time too: our business clients are not interested in Service Oriented Architecture. As far as they’re concerned, it’s an IT people Thing: just deal with it, make it work. Hide it. There is no Spoon. Business clients have other things on their mind. Like how to become compliant to stricter rules and regulations. Or how to run stable, yet effective processes to a lower cost. Or how to become much more productive. Or even – if all of these other things have sufficiently been dealt with – how to become innovative again and find new ways towards growth and value,
Yes, Service-orientation may be a crucial tool for our clients to address one or all of these areas. But We, The IT People, just have to realise that we are erecting barriers once we start to explain about web services, architecture and BPEL. Maybe we’d better constrain ourselves to bringing our clients reference models of services that are typical to their business, and use them as a dialogue tool. Maybe it’s better to just build a few smart, well-chosen services and simply show our clients how they help to achieve their objectives.
For the rest, the SOA ego should be invisible – and eventually defeated – in order to achieve its full potential.
That’s it for now. I’m leaving for holidays and to be quite honest, I am not the type to write blog-items during vacation. Or read them, rest assured. You can find me at the beach and even if that is indeed one giant virtual reality (in the vision of Jason probably powered by On Demand autonomic computing clusters) I still will enjoy it. Meet you again in August.