Five Building Blocks of SOA

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-01-29 Print this article Print


Meanwhile, Gall listed five building blocks to enable SOA and business processing: Enterprise architecture; modeling and abstraction; skill, sourcing and organizational structure; governance; and technology.

Having already defined EA, Gall delved into modeling and abstraction. "It's more important now to start thinking about integrating your models," he said. "And that's why I'm excited about things like Oslo, which is about integrating models." Oslo is the codename for Microsoft's broad modeling strategy, which consists of a new modeling language, a new visual tool and a repository for managing the models.

In terms of skills to effectively deliver SOA and BPM, most organizations will need to do "some outsourcing and some 'in-sourcing; but this is not the kind of thing where you send folks out to a training course and they come back and it magically works," Gall said.

In addition, Gall said, "You can't tell the success of an SOA initiative until at least two to three years later." A successful SOA implementation should be enabling more rapid change even two to three years later, he said.

Moreover, Gall listed a bunch of technologies that enable BPM. These include human workflow management tools, document and imaging management solutions, modeling tools, integration brokers and application servers, portal servers and rules engines, he said. And on the SOA side, Gall listed some of the leading companies delivering SOA capability in the famous Gartner Magic Quadrant. These companies included Oracle, IBM, TIBCO and Microsoft, among others.

To bring home his point about the benefits of unifying EA, SOA and BPM, Gall mentioned Well Fargo as a case study of how it can all come together. He said the Wells Fargo experience showed that EA acts as a facilitator, but without BPM systems tended toward stove-piping. Yet, BPM alone did not have the reach. So by unifying the approaches, Wells Fargo was able to streamline a major process that had 15 sub-processes into a solution that reduced cycle time from 12 days to a single day and led to savings of $30 million a year, he said. Also under the new architecture, Wells Fargo executives gained more visibility into their systems and decided that one-third of proposed projects were not needed.

So when implementing SOA -- along with EA and BPM -- Gall recommends that enterprises use a middle-out architecture; focus on the pain points; move business volatility into data and move technical stability into code; describe architectural interfaces as IFaPs; and focus on process issues that are difficult to manage or change. 

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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