Trust SOA to pave your way

The biggest mistake companies make with Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is thinking of [it] as an end in itself and not as a means to end, according to one Big Blue executive.

“We continue to make that mistake with SOA,” said Kerri Holley CTO with IBM Corp.’s SOA Center for Excellence, Business Consulting Services in San Francisco, Calif. “You should never think about SOA as a product with an ROI that can be measured, but as a process you apply to a particular business problem you are trying to solve, a [specific] pain-point. That is the ROI you have to think about.”

One such pain-point, he said, is getting more value out of existing applications and solutions.

According to Holley, 70 per cent of IT spending today is on maintaining existing applications in businesses. Companies want to reduce that amount to around half of the total IT budget so the remainder can be devoted to getting more out of those applications and services. SOA can help companies do this by transforming applications into deliverable Web-based services, he said.

The challenge, Holley said, is identifying which applications can be transformed into Web-based services. Companies, he noted, have little knowledge about how applications work, but they know specific kinds of applications [are] needed for the business to operate.

“This might be a customer account application, a claims application, a transaction application. Businesses have to start thinking of those as Web services that follow the same business rules and processes stand-alone or proprietary applications do right now.”

He said SOA helps turn those stand-alone and proprietary applications into Web services that respond to specific business issues and that are easier for businesses to understand than the architecture of SOA.

“Some love architecture discussions, but CTOs and those who control the budgets don’t care about that,” added Ben Block, product marketing manager with the Burlington, Mass.-based Systinet. “When you talk about the value of moving to shared services instead of dealing with silos of information, you don’t talk about how you get there, but the savings you get by moving there. That is the business driver, not the SOA architecture you will use.”

Related links:

SOA is as simple as it sounds

Making SOA real

Big Blue looks to smooth SOA deployments

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