Flexible friend

IT agility remains a collective figment of the imagination at some vendors' marketing departments rather than something which can actually be realised.

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By  Administrator Published  May 1, 2007

Al-Shair believes SOA aids in the agility of information systems. "It is an essential component for high agility, however, it is not sufficient by itself," he says.

"Various other components of the IT infrastructure and architecture are needed to achieve IT agility. SOA helps in abstracting services and providing them in a technology and platform neutral manner. If implemented correctly, it also helps in aligning business and IT for sustainable services delivery," he adds.

Many IT managers in the Middle East spend money on vendor hype and it's not difficult to locate around this region.

The most important part of it all is that an organisations' IT infrastructures and information systems be aligned with the business needs.

"Business requirements should drive the IT requirements. Each organisation needs to have a clear and holistic view of its business and information requirements, which in turn drives the IT architecture and infrastructure requirements of the organisation. IT strategy, projects and operations management need to be aligned around the overall business needs of the organisation," he says, adding that vendors should let their IT departments come up with solutions.

When it comes to SOA, Sage's general manager, Mark van der Ven, believes that while it is a popular buzz phrase with many IT vendors pushing the concept as the foundation for a scalable, cost-effective IT infrastructure, he warns that any technology should serve the customer first and foremost.

He argues that while having a reliable, secure and efficient IT infrastructure in place is one crucial investment for any organisation, adding agility and scalability to that is quite another.

"As companies grow, they hire new staff, expand their offices and demand much more out of the technology they invest in. These increasing demands could lead to creating a complexity in the IT infrastructure, or taking what could be an unnecessary ‘rip and replace' measure. Management shouldn't have to be too concerned about re-investing in a business management solution to cater to organisational changes. Business management solutions today should be developed with growth, scalability and ultimately, extreme agility in mind. This is especially the case for the Middle East, where although adoption has increased tremendously over the past few years, businesses remain wary of significant IT investments," he says.

While Van der Ven warns users against buying software that is too comprehensive if they want to remain flexible, Braunegger, of SAP, the developer of what is considered the most comprehensive ERP software available today, says SAP's Enterprise SOA is a blueprint for creating a highly flexible IT landscape.

"It enables companies to rapidly respond to changing business requirement and competitive market dynamics, while maximising existing IT infrastructure and resources addressing key business requirements of organisations across the globe and across all industries. Enterprise SOA unleashes the untapped potential of existing business processes within and across company boundaries," he says.

He adds that two trends have begun to dominate the world of business: the accelerated speed of change due to globalisation and the need to change through differentiation.

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