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Thoughts on Green SOA: a work in progress

Yesterday at IBM’s SOA Impact 2008 show in Las Vegas (my favorite eco-city) I gave my Green SOA stump pitch. Its still a work in progress, and fortunately perhaps the number of delegates was pretty low. SOA for Dummies across the hall on the other hand was packed.

What is service oriented architecture, and why is Greenmonk so dorky today? Good questions both. SOA is an approach to software development that should enable far greater flexibility than normal.  Business and technical interfaces are standardised, and stored in libraries so that services can be reused, or changed as required by the business.

Why is Greenmonk so dorky? Well, you can’t fight your nature, now can you?

My argument at the event is basically that if SOA is a means to better alignment between IT and the business, then we should also drive sustainability into the mix. Componentising services gives you freedom to leave, for example, potentially allowing you to swap a provider out for a greener, or more importantly from a bottom line perspective, more energy efficient service.

The new frontier in compliance is environmental regulations and mandates. South Korea, as I found out yesterday, already has a carbon added tax. I have written about REACH , the EU chemical reporting standard before. One quote I used, which I find pretty striking given it comes from a US oilman (not exactly a community full of bleeding heart liberals):

“The U.S. needs a strong, consistent and mandatory national framework to manage carbon emissions. One that is unencumbered by diverging state and regional initiatives. Without this framework, rising public concern over climate change threatens our energy security by contributing to further access restrictions.”

Jim Mulva, Chairman & CEO, ConocoPhillips

Environmental compliance is going to cost companies hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars over the next few years. My partner in crime at the event is a guy called Jim Bitonti, who presented about his company Evergreen Energy, its C-Lock application and partnership with IBM called GreenCert. The application, a sophisticated distributed app for greenhouse gas measurement, monitoring and management is built end to end on IBM middleware, so it was not surprising IBM asked me to collaborate with him. But regardless of platform Jim knows his stuff, and is solidly pragmatic about the opportunities and limitations of environmental compliance. I would like to see a collaboration with AMEE, and will hopefully broker a meeting between Gavin and C-Lock next week.

I realise now that I need to make the pitch more technical for n audience of SOA folks. But all in all it was a good learning experience, and I am certainly glad IBM realizes the importance of Green SOA, even if its customers are yet to catch on.