It's always fascinating how a number of seemingly unrelated events all occur in close proximity. Has this ever happened to you? For example, you could see a TV ad for a product, see a stranger riding the train using the product, and be standing around at a cocktail party with friends who happen to mention the same product. Independently, they don't mean much. Together, they mean buzz. They mean that there is something going on, whether created through marketing hype or through people all realizing simultaneously that the same thing is compelling.

This happened for me over the past week around the topic of SON - Service-Oriented Networks. I've been talking about this concept for nearly 4 yrs since we released the industry's first Web service API for networking devices. For F5, it's been pretty obvious that SOA (Service Oriented Architectures) are the biggest application transformation to hit enterprise IT in a number of years. The benefits of SOA and the value are well-documented so I won't go into the topic here.

But, SOA without SON is a problem. SON is a big deal. And, it's something that anyone embracing SOA needs to think about. Without ensuring that the underlying network and server resources are working in concert with the SOA infrastructure (in traditional terms, the applications and management tools), I believe SOA architects are overlooking a huge piece of the puzzle. A piece that if missed can directly jeopardize the viability of any SOA strategy and implementation.

So, the buzz you ask? Well, in the last week, I've heard from (3) different, totally unrelated parties in vastly different geographies in different roles asking questions about SON and why it's important. Based upon the questions they ask, it's clear they realize the importance of SON and how the "plumbing" supports the applications. It's really quite logical.

SON mandates an intelligent network device that can inherently understand the nuances of Web services and their needs. It also mandates a network which can talk like softare services instead of cryptic SNMP or canned scripts. (No offense SNMP coders) but this is a significant and very meaningful difference over traditional technology.

Are you or your organization talking SOA? If so, are you talking SON? If not, you should consider it - seriously. Further, if your not talking with the SOA folks but are responsible for the network, inject yourself into the conversation now.

Here's a great article written by Bill Laberis on the topic.

Listening to "American Idiot" by Green Day