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Life with SOA: The Greg the Architect Interview

Who Knew Their Was Fundamental Humanity in a Plastic Figurine?

This interview, long neglected, has now been re-released in online form, so that Greg's adoring fans worldwide can get to know the figurine icon just a little better. It appeared originally in 2008 in the pages of NOW Magazine, which retains all rights.

Follow Greg at www.gregthearchitect.com, and follow the interviewer here and www.twitter.com/strukhoff.

Greg Reemler’s ability to be presented in several types of media and natural good looks assures that he’ll have well more than his 15 minutes of fame; industry experts are predicting at least 20 minutes for him, maybe even half an hour.

Greg took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to share his wisdom and insights with NOW Magazine. His normal tone of slight exasperation turned a little defensive, even angry, during our interview. It's not easy being Greg, we suppose. Although we never actually saw his mouth move, we heard the following:

NOW Magazine: How would you rate the difficulty on implementing SOA?

Greg the Architect: Difficult

NOW: Sure, but how difficult?

Greg: Very difficult

NOW: What has been your biggest challenge with SOA?

Greg: No one knows what it means.

NOW: What do you mean?

Greg: I mean go read the definition on wikipedia and tell me if it makes sense to you.

NOW: Well, don't leave us hanging, what does it say?

Greg: You're not hanging, you're sitting comfortably in a chair. (Pause.) All right, you’ve broken me. A software architecture that uses loosely coupled software services to support the requirements of business processes and software users. Resources on a network in an SOA environment are made available as independent services that can be accessed without knowledge of their underlying platform implementation. Does that make sense to you?

NOW: Does it make sense to you?

Greg: Does that matter? My point is that it means different things to different people.

NOW: All righty, then….what does it mean to your CIO, Jerry Fleck?

Greg: It means getting that SOA stuff deployed or the board will outsource the CIO position.

NOW: What's Jerry doing to avoid that?

Greg: He told me to find a strategy or buy a new coat.

NOW: Huh?

Greg: He says he'll move my position to Greenland, so dress warm.

NOW: Let’s see…Iceland is green, and Greenland is ice, I believe.

Greg: (thought bubble) This guy’s dumber than my ex-brother-in-law.

NOW: So Greg, despite this confusion, you're in charge of your company's enterprise-wide SOA strategy.

Greg: Yes I am. Great question!

NOW: You must be very proud to have worked your way up to this level of responsibility.

Greg: Oh yes, gee, I’m extremely proud, and mostly because my journey had very humble beginnings. I started with Techrotech as a Fortran consultant during the Y2K switch, which had to be executed in 1999 because every computer’s internal clock had been erroneously set a year ahead during the Great Leap Year Conundrum of 1998.

NOW: Uh-huh.

Greg: I became a full-time employee in 2001 (or “2002 Minus One” as we were still calling it in some departments) and was assigned to help build the first IT trauma relief center…

NOW: A what?!

Greg: A 24-hour emergency counseling facility for emotionally distressed IT personnel. But stop interrupting me. I really…

NOW: OK

Greg: …Uh, I really made my mark in 2004 when I designed and deployed the Acronyctionary…

NOW: The what?!

Greg: The Acronyctionary, an enterprise application created to minimize confusion over obscure acronyms in the company lexicon. SOA was a natural extension of that experience simply for the fact that because for nearly 18 months I was the single person around here who knew what SOA stood for.

NOW: Technology providers are often a great source of information, especially about SOA. How have all the vendor pitches focused your efforts in determining a SOA strategy?

Greg: Focused? Maybe that’s the wrong word for it.

NOW: Is “confused’” a better word for it?

Greg: Let’s just say that my recent meetings with vendors have been (air quotes) “educational.” In some of the more (air quotes) “educational” conversations, I’ve been advised that an SOA is only as good as the database it’s built on, that it’s essential to migrate to proprietary software and hardware or else risk assimilation, and that releasing my spirit to the four winds of the business app suite is good for the Chi. That, and I’ve been made to read hundreds of whitepapers. So I don’t feel so good.

NOW: Please don’t get sick on us. How will your customers be rewarded once you've successfully deployed SOA?

Greg: Our customers will be rewarded with everything: every single functionality feature they requested, a zero downtime experience, and full realization of every originally defined business objective.

NOW: Really?

Greg: (laughs) No, just kidding. But we have printed about a hundred nice “SOA Onboard” T-shirts. First come, first served.

NOW Magazine: What’s the next step?

Greg: Uh, I’ve got to meet with more business people to develop ROI on our latest efforts. In fact, I really should be going now. Can we wrap this up?

NOW Magazine: Sure, Greg. Thanks for talking with us today.

Note: Greg the Architect received his bachelor’s degree in applied euphemistics when he was a bachelor at Florida University-Daytona (FUD), serving as president of the local ITK (I Tappa Kegga) chapter. He completed graduate work in perplex systems at Northern Illinois-Hinsdale (NIH). Greg is a member of the ACM, AA, AAA, AARP, and the BCS. He makes his home in the suburbs with his family, an old Triumph he never gets to drive, several sets of golf clubs he never gets to use, and a dog who loves him unconditionally.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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