David Linthicum on SaaS, enterprise architecture and management

David Linthicum from ZapThink (the world’s most prolific purveyor of analyst quotes for SOA-related press releases) recently wrote an article explaining that “Enterprise Architects Must Plan for SaaS“. A nice, succinct overview. I assume there is a lot more content in the keynote presentation that the article is based on.

The most interesting part from a management perspective is the paragraph before last:

Third, get in the mindset of SaaS-delivered systems being enterprise applications, knowing they have to be managed as such. In many instances, enterprise architects are in a state of denial when it comes to SaaS, despite the fact that these SaaS-delivered systems are becoming mission-critical. If you don’t believe that, just see what happens if Salesforce.com has an outage.

I very much agree with this view and the resulting requirements for us vendors of IT management tools. It is of course not entirely new and in many respect it is just a variant of the existing challenges of managing distributed applications, that SOA practices have been designed to help address. I wrote a slightly more specific description of this requirement in an earlier post:

If my business application calls a mix of internal services, SaaS-type services and possibly some business partner services, managing SLAs and doing impact/root cause analysis works a lot better if you get some management information from these other services. Whether it is offered by the service owner directly, by a proxy/adapter that you put on your end or by a neutral third party in charge of measuring/enforcing SLAs. There are aspects of this that are ‘regular’ SOA management challenges (i.e. that apply whenever you compose services, whether you host them yourself or not) and there are aspects (security, billing, SLA, compliance, selection of partners, negotiation) that are handled differently in the situation where the service is consumed from a third party.

With regards to the first two “tricks” listed in David’s article, people should take a look at what the Oracle AIA Foundation Pack and Industry Reference Models have to offer. They address application integration in general, not specifically SaaS scenarios but most of the semantics/interface/process concerns are not specific to SaaS. For example, the Siebel CRM On Demand Integration Pack for E-Business Suite (catchy name, isn’t it) provides integration between a hosted application (Siebel CRM On Demand) and an on-premises application (Oracle E-Business Suite). Efficiently managing such integrated systems (whether you bought, built or rent the applications and the integration) is critical.

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