“The lesson is that you cannot integrate applications in one fell swoop. You have to do it iteratively”
So what is software architect? To help figure out what a software architect isn’t, Oracle Corp’s Paul Marriott, a passionate Arsenal Football Club fan and disgruntled England team supporter, offers a counter-example from his favourite sport: England manager Steve McClaren.
McClaren lacks an overall architectural vision of how to provide his team with the player selection, tactics and leadership it requires, Marriott grumbled.
Thus, an England team composed of some of the world’s best individual footballers was poorly integrated, performing below its potential and struggling to qualify for the finals of the European tournament next year.
This is comparable to what the lack of a software architecture can do to a company’s ability to make the best use of its IT infrastructure, according to Marriott, who is Oracle Asia Pacific’s senior director for Oracle Fusion Middleware between Saturdays.
All too often, said Marriott, a company’s or government agency’s various applications are built as “silos” vertical stacks with little or no connection to other applications around them, and which make providing a view of the organisation’s entire information infrastructure difficult because they cannot be easily or dynamically integrated.
“This is why old-school enterprise application has turned to be an expensive and fragile exercise. For the last 20 years organisations either had to it by themselves or pay a system integrator to do it. Every change means the application integration has to be done all over again,” he said.
The company often winds up with a poorly integrated information infrastructure that does not serve it well, and loses competitiveness as a result, Marriott said.
“The lesson is that you cannot integrate applications in one fell swoop. You have to do it iteratively, as a new pieces are developed and need to be fitted into the whole.
The only way to solve this problem is to have highly interoperable technology components that can be used to integrate applications together using open standards,” he said.
This is why it needs the function carried out by capable software architects, who can manage the organisation’s technology platform as it evolves, the organisation’s critical business processes and the human element together.
Oracle is keen to develop a software architecture community including systems integrators and independent software vendors. So it has developed Oracle Fusion Middleware, its name for a group of several products aimed at providing the coherent, advanced SOA (service oriented architecture) – enabling software architecture.
In Malaysia, Oracle is seeing a lot of interest in application integration from the public sector, which is keen to provide more sophisticated services centrally to avoid the creation of unmanageable application silos, said Marriott.
Meanwhile, in the private sector, there is a great deal of interest in the financial sector, and companies interested in outsourcing non-core activities like human resources and payroll services.
This requires that the companies have a highly flexible software architecture that is loosely coupled to the organisation so that the non-core functions can be handed off to external service organisations with a minimum of disruption.
Marriott said that the growth rate for Oracle Fusion Middleware is about 50% in 2005 over the previous year, comparable to the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.
He was in Kuala Lumpur to speak at the International Association of Software Architects (IASA) Symposium 2007.
Senior Director for Oracle Fusion Middleware