Dan Sholler

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Daniel Sholler
Research VP
13 years at Gartner
25 years IT industry

Daniel Sholler is a vice president in Gartner, where he advises clients on issues around application architecture, integration and development. Mr. Sholler is an authority on service-oriented architecture, and his current research focuses on… Read Full Bio

Measuring SOA.. it just doesn’t happen

by Dan Sholler  |  February 8, 2010  |  Comments Off

many people these days are struggling with the governance models for SOA. While the circumstances differ, there is a common refrain..  people (most often business users who control budgets) do not have a grasp of the value of SOA, and what it means to the organization. However, this is hardly surprising. Our most recent surveys show that less than 15% of organizations measure anything at all about their services (even those that have defined service levels). Less than 2% measure outcomes.


C’mon folks, we all know the old cliche… but trite or not it is still true.. you cannot tell if you are winning if you do not know the score.  Clearly the industry as a whole has a lot to learn about measurements and metering for services (Gartner clients, see Measuring the Value of SOA) but we have to at least try, because without some objective measurement it is difficult to argue for any investment, nor is it possible to constrain expectations, and we all know what happens when expectations outpace our ability to deliver.

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Category: Governance SOA     Tags:

SOA and the AADI conference

by Dan Sholler  |  November 25, 2009  |  Comments Off

We are putting the finishing touches on the SOA tracks at the upcoming AADI conference . We not only have great content from Gartner, but have an exciting group of speakers for the SOA Panel Discussion, that we are doing with Richard Soley from the SOA consortium. I am also personally very pleased with the new SOA tutorial that I am giving on Sunday. I think this will be a great “jump start” for those who have not begun their SOA journey yet.

While these conferences are certainly a great deal of work for the organizers like myself, they are also extremely rewarding, because of the opportunity to speak with a great many people in a short period of time. I encourage those of you who are coming to sign up for 1-1 sessions with the speakers, as they are often the most valuable part of the conference. 

I am also glad to see that we have chosen the correct lineup of subjects. SOA continues to be the top item of interest for the majority of attendees, and we have an excellent program that should give you both practical advice and a long term view of the evolution of SOA. This is not surprising, as our team’s inquiries from Gartner customers around SOA have grown this year as well.  I hope all of you that can are planning to attend this conference, and whether you do or do not, I welcome any suggestions for how we can improve the content. Please feel free to get in touch.

See you in Las Vegas

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Category: SOA     Tags:

Amazing Events: Lots of great new research on event processing….

by Dan Sholler  |  October 13, 2009  |  1 Comment

My colleague Roy Schulte has just completed a new book on event processing, and we have just published (well, to give him credit, he did the heavy lifting ) a whole bunch of new research on events and event systems.

The first one  Six Design Patterns for Event-Processing Applications shows the logical design patterns used for different types of event driven systems, and should be helpful to practitioners who are designing and implementing such systems. The second note The Growing Impact of Commercial Complex-Event Processing Products explores the commercial offerings for complex event processing. These capabilities were once the real of esoteric systems such as program trading, but are increasingly being used by mainstream commercial enterprises to create highly responsive, situationally aware systems and processes. Finally, the third one Smart Devices and Sense-and-Respond Systems Are Event-Driven lays out the foundations of event driven systems, and how event driven models can interact and coexist with systems that process according to other models.


Interest in event driven capabilities is growing at an astonishing rate, and nearly all the designs we see for modern systems include some event driven capabilities. I would encourage anyone who is designing, building or integrating systems to take a look at this research, as it represents a major trend in the future of application design and architecture. 

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Category: Event Driven SOA     Tags:

Oracle, Sun and the EU: Defining the business impact of Open Source

by Dan Sholler  |  September 3, 2009  |  1 Comment

I just saw that the EU had opened and investigation into the purchase of Sun by Oracle from a competitive practice standpoint.  I am not a lawyer, and am not an expert in anti-trust law, especially in Europe, but it seems to me that this case raises some very serious and interesting questions about the role of open source, and about the software industry in general.

My recollection is that similar cases in the US the litmus test for something being anti-competitive was that the concentration in the market had negative effects on the consumer. In most cases, those effects were seen in terms of higher prices for goods and services compared to what would be expected in a competitive market.  However, since clearly MySQL is a big part of this question.. one wonders what the standard will be for open source? Can open source ever be anti-competitive? Clearly there is not way to use the price standard as a means of proving this.

One thought would then be that instead of using license pricing as the basis, they could use maintenance pricing. However, if a regulator were to take that view, that would call into question virtually all software maintenance, except for the small portion that is based on open source offerings.

Because of these potentially wide ranging impacts this investigation certainly bears watching. In all likelihood, nothing will change. After all, there are several competitors out there with significant market share for databases, other than Oracle and MySQL. However, there is a small chance that we might have a major shift in the software business model.

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Category: Open Source software industry     Tags:

SAP and Integration

by Dan Sholler  |  August 12, 2009  |  Comments Off

Although the recurring rumors of SAP buying Tibco have obscured it.. SAP does continue to improve its current integration offerings. The latest enhancement pack is now generally available. It has some desirable features, and includes technological improvements that SAP’s customers will benefit from. Check out our analysis of the update here…. User Feedback About NetWeaver Process Integration: Focus on Enhancement Package 1 (Gartner subscription required)

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Category: SAP SOA     Tags:

Cloud as variable cost?

by Dan Sholler  |  May 26, 2009  |  3 Comments

Lots of cool stuff about the cloud from all sorts of places.. but one thing strikes me immediately. In the past, the vast majority of our IT investments were either labor, or fixed costs. What cloud is really doing, is injecting a variable cost component into this. I personally believe that this shift is the most significant part of all of the discussion we have had on SOA(subscription required)  and cloud computing (subscription required) , and will create a lot of pressure to change many of the business practices that have been associated with IT, or that are very IT dependent.  There is a lot more research to figure out how this will happen, but it does seem pretty clear that we need to think about how to take not only IT practices, but all types of business practices on a contingent basis. This does not mean that every operation that the company performs will be based on contingencies, but organizations will focus on how to move these practices into that mode.

This also implies that the economics of those activities will come into question. In many cases, companies have been willing to pay to outsource things based on a similar model to what would happen if the organization performed that activity in house. In a contingency model, we are likely to see more pressure, not only to make things variable and contingent, but base the contingency on measured outcomes. This effect will occur not only in IT but in areas where computing and the web model becomes more important. (e.g. Advertising)

If I can acquire things on a variable cost basis, that allows me to take more risks, since if the thing does not work out, I can wind down my relationship. Obviously, this may not happen overnight, but it is a lot less risky than acquiring the things myself, and owning them for the next decade or so.

I have to think that this will change many decision making parameters about IT. I would love to hear your view on what might change, or what is changing in your world.


Category: Cloud SOA     Tags:

Progress Software gets a new CEO

by Dan Sholler  |  March 31, 2009  |  Comments Off

In a surprising shift, the founder and longtime CEO of Progress software Joe Alsop is leaving the company (see the press release) Rick Reidy, the new CEO has been a longtime employee who started with Progress in 1985. However, this change at the top might signal a change in direction for the company, which historically has focused on being a technology provider and selling through an indirect channel. While this is still a strong business for Progress, the growth is coming in enterprise software that is sold directly to customers. Although Progress has sold products this way for some time, their investments in marketing and customer support have not been as strong as in companies who have focused on a direct sales model. This should require a new approach to the product portfolio, marketing and branding (historically Progress has sold their products with very independent brand identities, such as Sonic and DataDirect). The question of whether this increased investment will have an impact on earnings in what will likely be a down year for everyone is interesting. Under Joe Alsop, Progress has been a very steady performer. It will also be interesting to see whether, in this age of consolidation of software, whether an independent player with a number of extensions to the software platform can continue to thrive.

Gartner customers who would like more info on Progress can find lots of research on the Gartner site, including  the analysis of their recent analyst day , and our recent report on the middleware market that is part of the Market Share: All Enterprise Software Markets, Worldwide, 2007  .

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Category: Uncategorized     Tags:

SOA delivers value

by Dan Sholler  |  March 27, 2009  |  Comments Off

The final analysis of our 2008 survey (which concluded in December) shows us that SOA is clearly delivering value in many organizations.  (See Survey Update: The Value of SOA Gartner subscription required). While the impact of SOA on costs was only moderately positive, SOA made significant contributions to the agility of the IT organization, and the ability of IT support business innovation. Organizations were getting positive ROI from SOA projects within 10 months, on average.

However, there were quite a few warning signs as well. Nearly a quarter of organizations did not measure the value of SOA at all, and 40% did not measure ROI. It seems obvious when you say it, but as all organizations are under pressure to do with less, having no way of demonstrating value is likely to lead to budget cuts and project cancellations.

In the end, it was clear that for most, SOA was a positive step for the organization, and it improved efficiency and agility,and translated into cost savings over the lifecycle of the projects.

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Category: SOA     Tags:

SOA is back in town

by Dan Sholler  |  March 6, 2009  |  Comments Off

Curiously, despite all the talk about recession, the stock market, and healthcare reform, the most popular topic around here is still SOA. Like everything else, we have seen our share of organizations who were planning major initiatives around SOA to put those on hold, and some to question the value of them yet again. At the same time the prevailing mode seems to be that that this architecture is becoming a permanent fixture of the IT landscape, and the question is only about how to apply and and over what scope. The team at Gartner has a solid set of research on this under way, and that research is summarized in the recent Key Issues for SOA, EDA and WOA, 2009. note. (Gartner subscription required)  There is a lot more to come, stay tuned.

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Category: SOA     Tags:

The shocking truth about "private clouds"

by Dan Sholler  |  January 22, 2009  |  Comments Off

It is always amazing how something so obvious can become so confusing. Shared services are shared services. SOA is about creating software as shared services. All of the developments around virtualization, and the infrastructure utility (Gartner subscriptions required) are about changing our infrastructure and operations management to shared services… and guess what? Private clouds (or whatever we end up calling them) are about combining the thing that the infrastructure folks are doing with the things  that the app folks are doing.

So the shocking truth is that similar concepts are being applied across different aspects of the IT industry, and the resulting systems can effectively combine those concepts to increase their leverage and value. This is all to the good. Of course, we all have a lot to learn about exactly how and what to do.. but as with all innovations, the chatter will start to die down as we all get our hands dirty implementing this in practice. It is this effect that has prompted some of the recent "death of SOA" discussions in the blogsphere, and no doubt will spawn the next great buzzword. (This is exactly what is predicted by the Hype Cycle, and documented in our Hype Cycle on Application Architecture)

In the meantime, we all need to focus on the key things that maximize the benefits of adopting those practices, designs and approaches. As I speak to Gartner’s clients about SOA, that is what they are all trying to achieve. I have no doubt that they will combine SOA with virtualization and other changes in the infrastructure to produce better, more flexible, less costly systems. The hype about SOA may be dying away, but the practice is just getting under way, and we have a great deal more to learn there. We have a lot of research about these practices going on right now… and at least for the moment, it will still be called SOA…although who knows..even I and my colleagues may succumb to "private cloud" or the buzzword de jure.. no one is immune, after all…

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Category: SOA     Tags: