Service Oriented Architecture - SOA

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get started?

SOA is best approached as individual projects - each of which bring your business greater flexibility and service orientation. Successful SOA adoption is done incrementally stressing the importance of starting small, and scaling appropriately. IBM can help you identify what SOA projects make the most sense for you. For example, we have a brochure called "Five SOA projects that can pay for themselves in six months". Regardless of whether you're looking to SOA for an enterprise-level project, a tactical technology-level project or something in between, IBM can help you lay out a roadmap that makes sense for you. We have workshops available free of charge which can bring together IBM's SOA architects and subject matter experts and your IT staff to help find projects to boost your business flexibility with quick financial return. Send a note to for more information.

What are SOA Entry Points?

To get started quickly with SOA, you need to select an initial project that focuses on a particular business opportunity that can be completed in a reasonably short timeframe. The SOA Entry points (PDF, 438KB) are project areas that have been shown to provide business value in a timely manner. Each Entry Point provides a key SOA related solution:

What are the major benefits of SOA?

SOA helps create greater alignment between IT and line of business while generating more flexibility - IT flexibility to support greater business flexibility. Your business processes are changing faster and faster and global competition requires the flexibility that SOA can provide. SOA can help you get better reuse out of your existing IT investments as well as the new services you're developing today. SOA makes integration of your IT investments easier by making use of well-defined interfaces between services. SOA also provides an architectural model for integrating business partners’, customers’ and suppliers’ services into an enterprise’s business processes. This reduces cost and improves customer satisfaction. Finally, SOA reduces business risk and exposure by helping you comply with proliferating government regulations, such as (in the United States) Sarbanes-Oxley, the US Patriot Act, etc.

What are the main obstacles?

According to a survey of six hundred senior executives around the world, the #1 barrier that companies are seeing to adopting SOA is shortage of skills. #2 was the difficulty in justifying the ROI of SOA projects. IBM helps break down these and other barriers. We can provide the skills and best practices that we've honed through over 1000 SOA customer engagements worldwide. We can help develop skills within your own organization and supplement with the expertise we have perfected. We can also help identify the right SOA projects for your organization to pursue with very attractive ROI.

Can I buy an SOA or must I build one?

To move your organization toward greater service orientation, you need to take a balanced approach to building versus buying. To create the infrastructure for an SOA, you'll need the right commercial off-the-shelf software that complements (rather than replaces) your existing IT infrastructure. This is a “buy” statement. On the “build” side, you may also choose to access know-how and hands-on involvement to use these software products effectively and get the most out of them. This infrastructure and the associated tools can help you create the business services that run on your SOA. Again, there is some “building” associated with this. So the real answer is that you need a certain measure of both building and buying. IBM has worked hard to develop software that satisfies the vast majority of repeatable business needs for SOA. At the same time, we have a deep portfolio of experience with past customers that we can access to help you meet any unique needs you may have. From both the build and buy perspective, IBM addresses the whole SOA Lifecycle – Model, Assemble, Deploy, Manage, and Governance – to help create an SOA environment that’s right for your specific needs.

What is Smart SOA?

Based on the over 8000 SOA customer engagements, IBM has found that the most successful approach to implementing SOA is to start small with an entry point and grow over time. IBM’s Smart SOA™ approach provides direction to start with a Foundational level, move to extend end-to-end and then transform and final achieve the ability to adapt dynamically. The objective is to achieve a smarter business outcome as your SOA environment evolves.

How do I integrate with my legacy applications?

Legacy applications are frequently at the core of your IT environment. But many times, these essential applications are isolated and inaccessible to common skill sets. Without the right skills and tools, it can be difficult to integrate these core investments with the rest of your IT environment. However, IBM can make this much easier. IBM can help you identify discrete elements within your legacy applications and "wrap" them in standards-based interfaces and use them as services within your SOA. IBM can accelerate your integration efforts through the use of application and technology adapters that have been developed cooperatively with our many partners

How does the Enterprise Service Bus relate to SOA?

The Enterprise Service Bus is a core element of any SOA. ESBs provide the "any to any" connectivity between services within your own company, and beyond your business to connect to your trading partners. But SOA does not stop at just implementing an ESB. Depending on what your goals are, you may want to use an ESB to connect other services within your SOA such as information services, interaction services and business process management services. Additionally, you will need to consider development services and IT service management services. The SOA reference architecture can help you lay out an SOA environment that meets your needs and priorities. The ESB is part of this reference architecture and provides the backbone of an SOA but it should not be considered an SOA by itself.

Do I need SOA Governance to get started?

A key aspect of successful SOA implementations is having business involved in the effort from the beginning. One of the values from SOA you can gain is improved Business/IT Alignment. SOA Governance supplies the decision rights, processes, and policies for business and IT to work together. After a service is deployed, there must be management aspects in place to control and monitor the service. You do not need a lot of SOA Governance to get started, but enough to work with the level of Smart SOA you are implementing. IBM has found across our 8000 SOA engagements that to fully achieve the SOA promise of value you require governance.

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