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Sustainable Investment Authors: Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Oracle Journal, SOA Best Practices Digest, Sustainable Investment, SOA & WOA Magazine, ERP Journal on Ulitzer, VITO Report

SOA Best Practices: Article

Going Beyond Project-Driven SOA

Why are you doing SOA? And how are you going to do it?

However, most of the organizations we've worked with are taking a project-driven approach to SOA - namely, addressing tactical integration and composite application requirements with SOA tools. So where does this leave them? Fortunately, companies don't necessarily have to do SOA for the same reasons, or do enterprise SOA. Each of us can do SOA in our own way and still benefit from it.

How?

You need to answer two key questions:

  1. Why are you doing SOA? This question isn't limited to those who haven't dipped their toe into the SOA pond.
  2. How are you going to do SOA? How are you going to make sure you don't do it willy-nilly?

This article reflects our experiences - synthesized from working with CIOs, IT managers, and architects - of the ways SOA practitioners are addressing these issues.

Why Are You Doing SOA?
When architects and developers talk about SOA, they discuss Web Services-enabling applications; interoperability through standards; reducing integration pain; and the ease of use of new-generation SOA tools and platforms, compared to using the legacy integration brokers. On the other hand, business people often think their investments in SOA are delivering agility, reduced IT costs, and reduced business risk - if IT people have articulated this clearly to them. If not, they see SOA as the panacea for the long change cycles and lack of responsiveness of IT. As IT people, how do we ensure that we can deliver on the objectives of the business and ensure that expectations are adequately managed? Or, how do the aforementioned magical SOA benefits actually manifest themselves? Surely not just from buying the right tools, however important that is.

Let's look at SOA benefits from a business perspective and see how IT helps make them a reality:

  • Agility comes from a flexible IT infrastructure that enables you to build new capabilities quickly, compose new solutions from services, and align and change existing systems in response to changing business requirements.
  • Reduced IT cost results in the ease and speed of development, interoperability, and reuse and optimized use of existing resources.
  • Reduced business risk comes from increased visibility into systems, applications, processes, and data and the ability to enforce security policies.

These SOA benefits are shown in Figure 1. These business benefits can be mapped to supporting IT benefits, which, in turn, are enabled by what we term SOA enablers. Each of these enablers is realized through tasks, activities, or technologies. Figure 2 is the overall picture of the IT benefits, SOA enablers and supporting tasks, activities, and technologies.

You are doing integration between your customer relationship management (CRM) and your financials application with an SOA platform, and your aim is to enable greater business agility, which depends very heavily on how flexible its IT is. IT flexibility, in turn, is determined by the extensibility of existing applications and systems - how easily they can be extended to incorporate new business requirements.

Extensibility in applications isn't enough because tightly coupling applications can have a ripple effect of changes and is, in most cases, very costly and time-consuming to manage. So, managing the impact of change becomes a key enabler of IT flexibility. Designing the right level of abstraction and an appropriate service-layering architecture can help reduce the cascading effect of change. Loosely coupled, and even completely decoupled, applications help reduce the impact of change. An important factor in determining how changes are handled is the appropriate use of tools and technologies. Especially in an SOA environment with a wide set of tools and infrastructures that may provide overlapping functionality, it's important to understand clearly the design patterns for which each tool is most suitable.

More Stories By Mohamad Afshar

Mohamad Afshar, PhD, is VP of Product Management at Oracle. He has product management responsibilities for Oracle's middleware portfolio and is part of the team driving Oracle's investments in SOA on Application Grid - which brings together SOA and data grid technologies to ensure predictable low latency for SOA applications. Prior to joining Oracle, he founded Apama, a complex event processing vendor acquired by Progress Software. He has a PhD in Parallel Systems from Cambridge University, where he built a system for processing massive data sets using a MapReduce framework.

More Stories By Prasen Palvankar

Prasen Palvankar is a director, SOA Strategic Engagements, in Oracle Fusion Middleware development and is primarily responsible for helping Oracle?s strategic customers with SOA adoption. He has more than 25 years of experience in the field of software development.

More Stories By Robert Schneider

Robert D. Schneider is a senior SOA consultant, a certified SOASchool.com instructor, and a published IT author with more than 15 years of experience. He is also an experienced speaker who has led many technical sessions and workshops at various events. He has written four books and numerous articles on SOA and high-performance database applications and implementations. He is currently working on a new book on SOA governance as part of the ?Prentice Hall Service-Oriented Computing Series from Thomas Erl,? and he is a regular contributor to The Big SOA Grid, a Web site providing current data relating to WS-* specifications.

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