IBM Bets Big on SOA

At the SHARE conference of IBM IT users, IBM touts its commitment to support service-oriented architecture and to help customers migrate to the SOA.

BALTIMORE, Md.—Service-oriented architecture helps enterprises become more flexible, grow faster and reduce costs, IBM says.

At the SHARE User Event conference here, IBM officials laid out IBMs commitment to SOA and the companys strategy for helping customers migrate to SOA.

SHARE is an organization of IT professionals that use IBM products and services.

Kelvin Lawrence, chief technology officer of Emerging Internet Software Standards in the IBM Software Group, Somers, N.Y., said SOA brings flexibility to enterprises and enables them to become on demand businesses.

In addition, SOA enables enterprises to change business processes more quickly, have better availability of their data, and also more readily reuse existing assets, he said.

To get started with an SOA, Lawrence said organizations must start by deconstructing their business model by breaking it down into discrete business processes and functions, Lawrence said.

Those processes and functions are known as service components, each of which interacts with other service components, he said.

Moreover, Lawrence described a service as a repeatable business task.

An SOA is an architectural style that supports service orientation, he said. And service orientation is a way of integrating a business as linked services, he added.

In addition, an SOA is a means to carry out distributed computing, even across enterprise boundaries.

However, to reach the level of an SOA, there must be standards in place to ensure that reliable messaging, management, interoperability and security requirements are upheld, Lawrence said.

"We really believe that this [SOA] only works if its based on standards," Lawrence said.

He said that IBM has participated in the Web services and SOA standards environment to help to "keep it open."

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about IBMs SOA business catalog.

And Lawrence recommends that, at a minimum, organizations looking to implement SOA and Web services should make sure they comply with the WSI (Web Services Interoperability organization)s Basic Profile.

"Ask vendors if their products comply with the WS-I profile," Lawrence said.

"If they dont [comply], ask them why."

Meanwhile, Lawrence said IBM is looking at developing community centric profiles.

He said profiles and usage patterns are developed over time through collaboration with IBMs clients. Profiles tie standards to requirements, he said.

They also extend the initial WS-I horizon to "help identify the next wave of technology priorities."

Moreover, SOA and Web services become even more relevant as "the lines between industries are blurring," Lawrence said.

"IT systems will have to talk to one another," and SOA and Web services make that easier via messaging and interoperability enhancements, he said.

Lawrence said the time is right even now for SOA, because the best practices, software infrastructure and standards exist to support it.

"There still a lot of work to do on individual standards," but in terms of basic IT support for SOA most of the work necessary to get started is done, he said.

"The situation is that people are implementing SOA now, and weve got hundreds of engagements ongoing," Lawrence said.

Meanwhile, Michel Biedermann, a solution architect in IBMs Enterprise Services for Microsoft technologies group, said IBM uses CBM (Component Business Modeling) and SOMA (Service-Oriented Modeling & Architecture) to help migrate customers to SOA.

CBM is a method of identifying opportunities for improvement and innovation by regrouping current activities into a manageable number of discrete, modular and reusable components that enable flexibility, Biedermann said.

SOMA is a modeling and design method aimed at enabling target business processes "through the identification, specification and realization of business-aligned services that form the SOA foundation," Biedermann said.

Meanwhile, IBMs SOIF (Service Oriented Infrastructure Framework) "implements your SOA plumbing," Biedermann said.

The SOIF implements key components of IBMs SOA Reference Architecture, including workflow services, enterprise services, Web services eventing, business services, message services, and other services, he said.

Danny Garber, a senior consultant with Microsoft Consulting Services who works with IBM, said IBM, Microsoft, BEA Systems and other companies are working together to create the standards necessary to better enable SOA development and Web services implementation.

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