SOA can help bridge the gap between IT and business
Dan Powers VP, Worldwide SOA Sales, IBM Software Group
talks to Dominic K about Service oriented Architecture (SOA) and how
organisations should approach one of the most hyped up IT architectures.
A recent study by Springboard Research reported India to
be the fastest growing SOA market in Asia with a compound annual growth rate
(CAGR) of 49 percent from 2006 to 2009. What according to you is the factor
behind such high adoption of SOA in India?
There are a couple of answers to that question. One is the
rate at which Indian companies are growing, the scale of growth that we see
in Indian finance, telecommunication, manufacturing is breath taking compared
to other places around the world. There is also very strong entrepreneurial
spirit in India coupled with an incredibly talented people that look at and
analyse which are the best possible solutions that can complement that kind
of organisational growth better.
When we talk to a CEO they ask pretty strong questions that are relevant to
their organisation. Some of the questions are regarding the high rate of growth.
With high speed growth comes high customer service with a world class supply
chain. During acquisitions, things needs to be executed and merged at the speed
of light and integrated with the people processes such as customer information
When we look around the world, we need to analyse what kind of architectural
style can support that bridge between IT and business the best. That is when
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) pops to the top. The other part is that
India also holds a large set of system integrators and they are executing projects
around the world in every single vertical. This further complements adoption
SOA is a process, a journey rather than a mere product
off the shelf. How should SOA concept be approached?
until now have around 3,000 engagements around the world. Most customers prefer
to start from the business side while some kickstart the process from the IT
side. We can see them start from different areas and with different approaches.
One of the areas could be customer service to give the right answer to the right
question, on time without any delay.
One of the other areas is to integrate the large amount of data in any company.
Another area is the connectivity layer. Various departments write applications
on different languages. The ideal way will be to connect all their applications
using a connectivity layer at the enterprise level. We have some standard way
of establishing such connectivity and hence want to buy some connectors from
the industry. This is where technologies such as Enterprise Serial Bus (ESB)
come into play.
The next area revolves around what I call reuse i.e. how do we set up and establish
a policy of reuse for the organisation, how do we do service design and creation
within the company so that people process information can be reused on connectivity.
As the organisation passes through time it should self analyse as to how the
project can be executed using Service Oriented Architecture. Learn from it and
then replicate it as they go on for other project. Once this is done then I
believe applications can be completed in days if not in months.
Are there concrete reasons for organisations to adopt SOA?
A concrete reason will be to reduce the frustration between business and IT
today. So the CEO will come up and ask for various details of business and other
parameters. IT truly wants to support the business wherever possible. IT wants
to be the hero to do that and SOA makes it possible. SOA is an architectural
style. It can bridge IT and business.
What are the various hurdles in implementing SOA?
A lot of hurdles we see are not on the technological side but on the cultural
side of the organisation that is doing the implementation. Many companies do
not have a policy of reuse. Many lack a policy of shared services. So SOA in
a way allows organisations to take a step back and say there are better ways
to spend money on IT, the system that forms the supporting pillars of the business.
Organisations need to think of proper governance within the company. They need
to think about shared services and policy of reuse as well.
What are the trends and advantages you observe from SOA?
A lot of people use the term reuse all the time. But, I feel reuse is something
that happens as they get more sophisticated in using SOA. Obviously SOA will
help to reduce costs in IT infrastructure. It can help standardise and connect
applications to data. It can help share services which everybody can use, and
which will again help save cost.
What are the best practices to be followed on the design
principles, patterns, and techniques organisations should follow for SOA?
I think what differentiates IBM from other companies is mainly experience. We
have been involved with SOA for well over three years as a company, starting
way back when Web services started. We have made the experience from our engagements
available for best practices at www.ibm.com/soa. This offers an online platform
for customers to assess SOA.
We are investing about a billion dollars a year on our software technology around
SOA. We developed a sound portfolio and what we call service oriented foundation
products. Finally what gives us the advantage is our support and commitments
to open standards. Use of open source is very important in service oriented
We have been very involved and upfront in this area to build various Web services
standards that you around today. We are also taking keen interest in various
up coming and emerging standards such Business Process Execution Language (BPEL)
as well as service component architecture.