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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Human Interfaces to Composite Applications

It’s important to understand the connection between user interfaces and process-based composite applications in the context of SOA. The business process world makes a distinction between process and workflow, where process is automatic, while workflow involves people at certain points. In reality, however, there’s no such thing as a business process that doesn’t involve people. In fact, the illusion that business processes can be entirely automated is
contrary to the agile nature of SO computing. The fact of the matter is that IT exists to meet human needs, and thus people are an integral part of the processes that IT enables. In other words, the human interface to composite applications is not an afterthought, but rather a key
feature of the architecture. Furthermore, people do not work in isolation. Business relies upon teamwork, and teamwork requires collaboration. Client interfaces to composite applications must therefore be inherently collaborative. The business benefits to taking an SO approach to composite application creation and use are broad and deep. For the entire fifty-plus year history of business computing, IT has put limitations on the business. Technology has been both empowering as well as constraining, because of its fundamentally brittle, inflexible nature. Service Orientation promises to change that fundamental fact. Companies who build and run agile SOAs that support flexible composite applications with rich user interfaces will find that business will finally drive the technology, rather than the other way around.

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