I know that’s a pretty bold statement but here’s why. This morning I went to a vendor’s presentation morning, it was the usual game of buzzword bingo from the very first slide on. All the usual enterprise2.0, social-networking, portal-compliant, content-management, vertically-integrated, SOA-BPM-UCM-JEE-ESB-WS-BPEL platform-framework-enabling scalability-enhancing fun-lovin’ don’t write code but manage-the-enterprise-blog-wiki-twitter-facebook-youtube shopping cart drag-n-drop non-content that we have all come to expect from the big vendors was fully in attendance.
But the real kicker was a presentation on Agile Integration, by one of the vendor’s partners (and in the interests of disclosure, a competitor to my own employer). A few slides in and there’s the inevitable “what is agile” slide with a standard dictionary definition and some lip-service to previous history. Now the thing here of course, is that the word Agile in software development parlance is by now a well-entrenched piece of jargon – it has a specific meaning to most people that is fairly precise and different to just the garden-variety common English usage. This is the purpose of jargon in a discipline: to be precise in communication. And the agile manifesto, nearly 10 years old, just means in effect, if you’re in the software development game you just can’t redefine the term to mean something else.
Except of course, you can, if you do, and you’re big enough and enough people listen to your incredibly mangled marketoid-speak. But implementing a SOA solution is not Agile, no matter how many times you make an incredibly weak case that it is or how many times you repeat any other platform-orientated mantra. Yes, you read it right, according to the vendor’s partner at least, SOA is Agile.
This banality made me so angry, it was very lucky that straight after there was the morning coffee break because I was seething and it took all my self-discipline not to launch into an attack during the questions (easy picking, because there were no other questions asked!). I had to vent at my poor colleagues in the break.
Anyway, on my admittedly pessimistic reading it means that Agile Is Dead, as pretty soon we are going to find clients telling people, “Yeah we do agile, we bought the million-dollar SOA package off that vendor”, and then they’ll be saying the reason their integration projects are still failing is because they haven’t installed the very latest patchset, or upgraded to all-new LEANsuite 220.127.116.11 release B with the optional drag-n-drop Super-Agility add-in for Portals, Release 16f (the “f” is for “fail”).
At sushi train lunch afterwards, we made the observation that pretty much the vendor wants to be all the food groups all at once. Kind of like this bit of gluggy sushi I mistakenly lifted off the train:
Now I’m not saying that you can’t do “SOA” with an agile process, if that’s your preferred architectural style, then if you are committed you can certainly develop it in an Agile fashion. You can’t afford however, to confuse the two things. If you do, that picture above is what your enterprise will look like too if you mistake the buzzword bingo offered by vendors for actual insight into agile development process. Talk to an expert instead.
Sorry to be so negative, the whole morning pretty much sapped my will to live.