In his monthly Extreme Data column, Tom Kevan has described how service oriented architecture (SOA) software enhances the value of sensor data by making them quickly and easily available to large numbers of users. Now comes a benchmark report from the Aberdeen Group saying nine of every ten companies are adopting or have adopted SOAs and will exit 2006 with SOA planning, design, and programming experience.
The report, "Enterprise Service Bus and SOA Middleware," indicates a growing and widespread acceptance of SOA technology.
How and Why
Kevan describes an industrial scenario involving a number of sensors tied into a human-machine interface (HMI), which provides real-time feedback to production personnel so they can monitor the various temperatures and pressures of a process. "At the same time, users elsewhere in the facility may also want to use the information—maybe in a supervisory dashboard as part of a Web-based portal," he says. "If the HMI is SOA-enabled, they can draw upon the components of the HMI to provide raw sensor data to the portal."
The Big-Picture Challenge
This idea of tapping sensor data for more expansive use reminds me of a conversation with Steve Muenstermann of Honeywell Process Solutions that I reported a couple of weeks ago. Muenstermann said, "We can no longer be just engineers, we must also be business managers." He was talking then about wireless sensor networks, but his remark applies more broadly, too.
Similarly, Gentry Lee, in his keynote address at Sensors Expo, discussed the same trend of engineers needing to take a larger view of how their work fits into the overall enterprise.
Increasingly, technology advances are challenging engineers to step out of traditional roles and leverage the power of sensor data in unconventional ways.
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