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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-10-18 Print this article Print

Brady said Avanade helped EMI in three main ways: Web forms; data model design, producing the model with which the company developed its Web services; and delivering the ACA .Net framework for creating the SOA plumbing.

ACA .Net meant "fewer lines of code to write, manage and test," Brady said. "Avanade easily saved us several months. And now that we have ACA .Net and have used it, we have quite a bit of room to grow with it."

Overall, EMI and Avanade have developed 12 services, including news, tours, consumer e-mail capture and artist discography, Brady said.

Industry observers said the time is right for Web services architectures that can grow with a business.

"Enterprises are sick and tired of expensive, inflexible IT," said Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, in Waltham, Mass. "Integration has been soaking up too much of the budget for way too long. SOA provides a more agile, flexible approach to exposing and consuming IT functionality, finally putting the control of IT capabilities into the hands of the business."

According to The Yankee Group 2004 U.S. Enterprise Web Service Survey, a study of 437 enterprises across the United States, senior enterprise buyers within the manufacturing, financial services, health care and wireless sectors are preparing to invest in SOA infrastructure development. The Boston-based research companys study said 75 percent of the government sector already has begun laying the groundwork for SOAs.

ZapThink analyst Ronald Schmelzer said: "What companies are increasingly realizing is that they already have sufficient business logic for running their operations, but its just not wired together in a way that allows them to continuously reuse their investments for ongoing operations. Every time theres a change in the business—a new acquisition, business process, partner, technology, you name it—the company has to go through an expensive and timely process to reconfigure or even reprogram their existing business systems.

"SOAs are catching on because they promise two core benefits: the reuse of existing business logic through abstraction ... in a heterogeneous IT environment and the ability to compose those pieces of logic into new applications without rewriting in a way thats agile enough to respond to change without breaking," Schmelzer said.

In addition, Schmelzer said, "the challenge in SOA is not the technology but rather the people; developers and enterprise architects have yet to really figure out how to build the right services and how to build their infrastructure in the right way to avoid the previous problems of tight coupling and dynamic composability. This is why both a comprehensive SOA run-time infrastructure as well as new methodologies, training, models, governance and even a restructuring of companies IT departments are mandated to make SOA a success."

Brady said the SOA initiative has helped EMI "future-proof our sites against back-end changes we might make." He also said the SOA will enable EMI to cut costs in designing new Web sites.

"Something well be looking at over the next fiscal year, which begins in April, is to have data repurposed to generic XML information," Brady said.

Meanwhile, Brady said Avanade was "a great asset" in EMIs switch to an SOA. "This is a project we couldve done with internal services, but it would have taken us longer," he said.

In terms of savings or return on investment, Brady said Avanades work saved several months of development time and enabled EMI to "retire three or four systems."

"The productivity boost depends on the customer," Avanades Hartman said. "It depends on the customers skill set and what they need."

EMI was "asking us to help them solve a classic enterprise problem around integration and reuse," Hartman said. "SOA makes that easier than its been before. And its easier because of open standards, the Web services standards."

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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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