Some time back I was fortunate to sit on one of the Microsoft Architect Certification Boards with Chip Wilson from Geniant. One of the nice things about sitting on the board is that you meet some really smart architects, both in front of and on the board. After a week of coming up with architectural questions you also get to know the board members pretty well and so began to enjoy Chip's really searching questions. Anyway Chip has just finished his new book, "Transparent IT" which he was kind enough to send me a copy of and I read over the weekend. It is clearly for senior IT mangers / directors rather than deep techies and has a fun scenario about two companies and their supply chain systems as an intro.

The interesting thing for me however was that Chip approached the problem of infrastructure from the same place that i am coming from; first with a definition of infrastructure from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:

 

An underlying base or foundation especially for and organization or system.

 

He then goes on to explain how important IT is and give a definition of SOA (which I wont comment on as I have no wish to get embroiled in the "what is SOA war"). The thing that really caught my attention in his book however was that he spilt IT into three layers, an enterprise gateway (hummm), an application infrastructure and a technical infrastructure. His application infrastructure is what I think of as SOA + and his technical infrastructure is what I have been calling SOI.

 

As an aside I have been beaten up about the use of Service Oriented Infrastructure. I think it is a reasonable term insofar as it means a infrastructure which is oriented towards supporting services or a service based approach. I do accept however that oriented has been rather overused in SOA and Object Orientation. Anyone any better ideas? I am keen to avoid marchitecture.

 

Anyway back to the book: Chip has a really nice diagram for his three layers and a definition of the Technical Infrastructure layer as "the hardware and software that enables the development and deployment of applications". You can tell from that definition that Chip comes from an app dev background! I would prefer "the hardware and software that enables the deployment, operations and management of services".  He then goes on to define platform which I agree with and lists the elements that go to make up the Technical Infrastructure layer as hardware, networks, OS, security Idm, messaging and collaboration, runtime services and management services.

 

He then goes on to talk about integration and building Service based systems using these concepts and techniques.

 

So I agree with Chip's Technical Infrastructure layer (which means I have to add messaging and collaboration to my definition of SOI).

 

Finally there were a set of vision papers from industry luminaries about where technology is going which were interesting but I would have liked to see them in terms of Chips three layers to tie it all together.

 

An interesting read, have a look.