SOA Architecture, Governance, and Industry Standards in the Enterprise

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Related Topics: SOA & WOA Magazine

SOA & WOA: Article

SOA and Its Impact on EAI and On-Demand

And how it's all tied up with Web Services

Architectures aren't what they used to be, and our business models and drivers aren't either. As our business processes and drivers grow more and more complex so does the need to improve the underlying architectures that support the models and drivers. In fact, it's important to realize that well-built, robust, and scaleable architectures are no longer a luxury, but a requirement just like the building blocks of a new house.

Advances in technology and the ubiquity of the Internet have realigned the way in which business functions. Just look at the host of e-business avenues such as Internet sales portals and information portals that have been created.

This is good news for consumers because it means more competition and more competition means more competitive products at more competitive prices.

Consumer Expectations
Consumers want to get the most for their money and their expectations usually demand quick turnaround time and quality service. Their expectations constantly challenge product makers to build more and better products that sell for cheaper prices using more efficient and effective means of production.

What Can Be Done?
To succeed in such an environment of expectation and competition, organizations need a powerful IT setup with a robust infrastructure such as an on-demand operating environment that can recognize, respond to, and adapt to day-to-day fluctuations in volume demands from customers or retailers and security threats and risks more quickly and effectively.

Such an environment lets businesses improve their operations by giving them access to the latest technology advances that ultimately serve the customer. And it promotes a faster return on investment (ROI) by decreasing IT maintenance, and the time and cost that goes with it, and improving employer and employee productivity by bringing down the cost of business and the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Common Practices
Of course every business organization is different, but over the past couple of decades most have created applications and architectures to solve their business problems.

However, that means that we now have to deal with an increasing number of point-to-point applications, each with its own complex architecture, as well as a rising number of maintenance tasks and the need to update existing - but hard-to-reuse - applications with newer business models, all of which creates more redundancy in our infrastructure. In other words, we are solving business problems in a way that involves more time, more money, and more resources and detracts us from the real business model - and how it can be improved so the business is more competitive.

A Service Oriented Architecture will help us with these challenges and give us a base on which to establish a solid on-demand operating environment that lets IT devise a strategy for building newer, more efficient applications while reusing existing assets.

"An on-demand operating environment can be defined as a set of integration and infrastructure management capabilities you can use to become an on-demand business," according to Fredrik Carlegren and Tim McCrimmon.

SOAs: In Demand or On-Demand?
A Service Oriented Architecture is the basis of an on-demand operating environment. It has a tremendously powerful impact on the deliverables of the on-demand operating environment and provides for more effective Enterprise Application Integration (EAI).

SOAs are the latest buzzword. Everyone is talking about them, and while the concept isn't exactly new, it's finally getting to be better known and accepted.

The question is why now?

If the first Service Oriented Architecture used Object Request Brokers (ORBs) or DCOM - which have been around for ages - why are SOAs only gaining wide acceptance now as the next level in software design, development, and management?

One might think it has something to do with the maturity of the technology, but it's really the emergence of technologies such as Web Services and what SOAs can do for them and vice versa.

See, a Service Oriented Architecture is based on intelligent services that are well defined, loosely coupled, and self-contained. Web Services fit that description quite well. SOAs based on Web Services can dramatically speed up the application development process. SOAs are not just in demand, but truly on-demand.

Making the Decision - Are SOAs for Me?
Before deciding to use an SOA, it's critical to invest the time needed to evaluate all the relevant factors and educate yourself as an organization. This can be done by attending seminars, listening to webcasts, and bringing in specialized consultants to educate your staff and personnel as well as to help you turn on the "SOA switch."

EAI entails a lot of different varieties and flavors of working models, applications, and prototypes. So it's important to thoroughly understand what works best for your business before making a decision. Businesses need to be put in the picture. I was once invited to an architecture meeting where, when I mentioned SOA, a top-level executive and his business architect thought I was referring to some fancy form of ketchup! No kidding.

Some organizations aren't interested in an on-demand operating environment and a service oriented architecture, others have the desire but not the background or commitment. This can lead to jumpstarting an SOA project too early and then aborting it due to unforeseen factors, or getting discouraged early on because of the investment cost, the time spent on training, or resource availability.

So I re-emphasize my point about doing your homework first since it really means gaining a whole new perspective on IT infrastructure and application management. If you're looking to create a truly on-demand IT infrastructure, an SOA is the first step and the base foundation of an on-demand business application. According to Kishore Channabasavaiah and Kerrie Holley, "SOA can be both an architecture and a programming model, a way of thinking about building software."

It is equally certain that, as Praveen Chhangani puts it, "With the power of a streamlined environment, you can align and integrate your organization's resources and capabilities with your business strategies, accelerating the traditionally long-running process flows - thereby cutting overall costs and eliminating errors."

IBM Offerings: SOA and Web Services Development
BEA and Microsoft provide SOA-driven development models but for purposes of this article, I only intend to touch on IBM's offerings.

IBM understands that companies across the board are looking for ways to respond more quickly and effectively to changing market conditions and IBM promotes SOAs as a path to that flexibility. IBM categorizes its offerings by role and function. The following is a list of its key products for SOA and Web Services development.

  • Business Analysts: (WebSphere Business Integration Modeler) - Software tools for modeling, simulating, and analyzing complex business processes quickly and effectively.
  • Software Architects & Model-Driven Developers: (IBM Rational Software Architect) - An integrated design and construction tool for creating service-oriented applications that leverages model-driven development with the UML and unifies all aspects of software application architecture.
  • Java and Web Developers: (IBM Rational Application Developer) - A comprehensive IDE for quickly designing, constructing, analyzing, testing, profiling, and deploying service-oriented applications.
  • Integration Specialists: (WebSphere Studio Application Developer IE) - An Eclipse-based IDE for integration specialists to create composite applications that deploy to WebSphere Integration Server Foundation.

More Stories By Praveen K. Chhangani

As a certified IBM WebSphere MQ Workflow Specialist, Praveen K. Chhangani is part of Prolifics' specialized team of WebSphere consultants whom IBM calls upon to service its most challenging customer requirements by providing training, custom-ization, administration and configuring, architecture design, development, and deployment of distributed architectures.

Mr. Chhangani has several years of experience and is well rounded as a developer, analyst, adminis-trator and solutions architect. His extensive experience with IBM WebSphere MQ Workflow, WBI Modeler, Monitor and Process Choreography has proven invaluable in a full lifecycle of projects from requirement analysis, pro-cess design and automation, solution design, development to testing and mentoring for clients such as MCI and Principal Financial Group. Praveen K. Chhangani is also an IBM Certified SOA Associate as well as an IBM Certified Business Process Analyst - Webpshere Bisiness Modeler Advanced v6.0.2

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