By Walter Lindsay, Director of Solution Architecture, Liaison Technologies
At one point in time assembly lines were new. Once line and staff organization in businesses were new. Cloud computing and SOA are still new.
Assembly lines, over decades, changed manufacturing, the way people thought about businesses, the organization of family life, the mental models we used in thinking about “nature” and even the language we used to talk about the human mind. This occurred in multiple stages over decades.
My refrigerator holds mass-produced assembly line cheese. Inexpensive and hopefully nourishing, it is the same in every grocery store across the continent. The refrigerator also holds artisan cheese and small batch microbrewery beer. We will eat lunch on mass-produced plates, but when the Limburger cheese a friend hand-carried from Wisconsin was served, we pulled out china created by a craftsman.
In IT we can now create assembly lines for roles which once required a craftsman.
Almost. Oftentimes there is a craftsman behind the scenes who created a service which millions of people can now use. Oftentimes with large teams creating and maintaining that assembly line.
Cloud computing is similar to that assembly line. It is what Paul Stamas has called a “delivery mechanism.” SOA is a way to think about your business, with the benefit that if you organize the IT of your business that way you can more rapidly adapt the way you do your business. In this sense, SOA is like the work stations on the assembly line.
Nowadays we can focus IT craftsmen and artisans so their special skills are more available to the business and not focused on enabling technologies which seem remote from the needs of the business.
For more thought on IT assembly lines and artisans, see our recent webinar with Syscon Media. Also, see Paul Stamas’ blog entry on Gartner and the cloud. It is a fascinating discussion on how to think about clouds and SOA. For more about assembly lines and the development of other business ideas, see the recent book *The Puritan Gift: Reclaiming the American Dream Amidst Global Financial Chaos* by Kenneth Hopper and William Hopper.