5 Nov 2012

Three Steps to SOA Success

When you look at the definition of services-oriented architecture it is a relatively easy concept. The Open Group defines SOA simply as “an architectural style that supports service orientation”–a way by which you can build your business processes, a glue to hold your applications tightly together.

In actual practice of SOA, business process management, and/or integration into a cloud computing environment, this process can be confusing and seemingly impossible. Moving ahead with any of these processes can be daunting when there is already an architecture in place, looking ahead at future integration, and employing new services within a regimented infrastructure.

Despite the intimidating prospect of an SOA initiative, today more companies than ever are investing in SOA services and technologies. Many more are taking the steps to integrate into cloud computing for an overarching deployment of company wide services. Investing in services and technology to support SOA can be costly, but part of the promise of the approach is that this outlay will quickly pay for itself in increased productivity, business efficiency, customer satisfaction, and a reduction in cost through reuse. Additionally, by investing in SOA, a company can save money over the long term by avoiding costly point-to-point integration projects that have to be repeated for every product upgrade.

The question is how to do this in the most cost effective and complete manner.

1. Devise A Team

The best way to start integrating a full SOA system into your business you must first pull together a competent team. The technical nature of an SOA or Cloud services project requires it to be undertaken almost completely by your technology department. However, since the very core of the project is intended to advance business processes, it’s essential for senior-level executives to be on board as well. One of the most efficient ways to do this is to create a team built of senior executives as well as top IT personnel. By establishing a cross-departmental team committed to your SOA project, you can ensure that individuals from all areas are responsible and accountable for the project’s success.

2. Set Incremental, But Realistic Goals

When looking at the big picture it would be most unwise to have a plan that is too ambitious at the start. An SOA initiative should be created with clear incremental goals to reach your grand vision. However,  these goals must also be explicitly defined – with very clear objectives and tasks. If this process is not a part of your overall project, you risk losing time and money investing in technologies you do not need and creating unnecessary infrastructures.

3. Determine Whether You Will Build or Buy

There are many SOA vendors in the marketplace today. In your evaluation in deciding the best approach for your company, the SOA team is tasked with the consideration of your business priorities and discuss options with potential vendors. Working with a vendor gives a prebuilt tool that can act as a lubricant in easing deployment, and can take much of the pressure off of your IT team.  Prebuilt SOA is of the most advantage to companies that have a history of investing in packaged applications as a means to create IT systems.

In light of these prebuilt services there is also the fact that some services are not all encompassing for a particular businesses enterprise, process, or service compliment. Many companies have specifically set goals for the IT department to build their own architecture from the ground up. This means that companies for which a more-advanced SOA can spell increased revenue should look to management tools to help them create their own infrastructure.

This step may be more time, money, and labor intensive, but the end results are a true integration of services into your SOA structure.

Getting your company moving into the direction of SOA is no longer a question of whether or not it is a good idea. The question now is when, how, and who. Give some thought to the process, set a course, and determine your team for getting you there. Taking these steps will help you see success without the costly trial and error of many companies before you.

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