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Issue of December 2005 
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Middleware holds SOA key

Middleware has an important role to play in SOA’s success. Sneha Khanna talks to Laxman Bhatia, Marketing Manager, Solutions, Asia Pacific, BEA Systems, about emerging frameworks and technologies in this segment

Has service oriented architecture (SOA) been adopted by Indian enterprises?

The Indian market is quite mature in terms of middleware adoption, especially in the case of big companies. SOA has been in the market for a while now. The technology is not just successful in large enterprises but medium-size companies as well.

Middleware and SOA—what’s the connection between them?

SOA is a natural progression for middleware. The goal of SOA is to enable organisations realise business and technology advantages through a combination of process innovation, effective governance, and a technology strategy that revolves around the definition and re-use of services.

SOA’s benefits are higher productivity, agility and speed, because the components can be re-used instead of having to be re-created, and skills can be leveraged across projects. It allows IT departments to deliver business services faster and be more closely-aligned with the business. Further, it allows businesses to deliver the optimal user experience and gain a competitive edge by being able to respond quickly and efficiently to needs and opportunities.

SOA is all about processes and solutions. Middleware acts as the glue that binds everything together. It is the plumbing that goes under to make things work. Middleware’s principal contribution is to provision and securely enable SOA services over a network. It plays the fundamental role in the creation, management and monitoring of service infrastructure. In fact, the complete lifecycle of these services is handled by middleware.

Most companies have a variety of middleware running. Is there a way to standardise?

That is done by service infrastructure as it abstracts the underlying implementation and creates a common layer of services. After this layer is created and designed, one can start leveraging the principles of SOA and getting the maximum return on investment.

As an example, for point-to-point solutions we have a product called Aqua Service Bus. It helps converge enterprise application integration from the past and Web services of the present under one umbrella to provide a standard platform.

How do initiatives like enterprise service bus (ESB) help accelerate the deployment of SOA?

An ESB creates a layer of abstraction over underlying implementation. It also understands proprietary systems and technologies. ESB abstracts these in a standard interface and the service infrastructure created by it is more usable and manageable.

ESB plays multiple roles. For example, it routes service messages based on business routes, filters messages, validates messages, takes care of data transformation, applies sophisticated business logic to messages, and manages network traffic by defining policies over the network

ESB plays multiple roles. For example, it routes service messages based on business routes, filters messages, validates messages, takes care of data transformation, applies sophisticated business logic to messages, and manages network traffic by defining policies over the network. These policies are necessary criteria if third parties are to have secure access over the service network.

The ESB also monitors and manages services such as the performance governance model and service level agreements. When you combine these components together, ESB is the answer because it has in-built flexibility and all the above-mentioned qualities. It allows you to create similar information across the enterprise and provision all these services over a network.

How does one deal with the bottlenecks that hamper SOA?

SOA is about change, and change is the hardest thing to achieve. Typical SOA challenges include:

  • An additional tier of governance to manage the common services infrastructure layer.
  • Adjustment of the culture of IT. Developers have to be taught to stop thinking in terms of solving independent problems and start writing their applications with re-usability in mind. IT staff need business process architecture skills, and not just technical ones.

What are the middleware concerns with regard to RFID?

When considering an RFID edge-server, it is important to choose the one which is lightweight, remotely-manageable, secure, scalable and reliable. Other RFID-specific considerations are how the edge-server architecture approaches high I/O and network bandwidth concerns, high CPU utilisation caused by intensive pattern-matching, and how that meshes with the requirements of low CPU and memory utilisation at the edge. Reliable transactional messaging with message-ordering, exactly-once messaging guarantees, and the ability to function in disconnected mode are also important considerations for the RFID server—especially around disconnected mode operations.

khannasneha@networkmagazineindia.com

 
     
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