Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an IT architectural style that supports the transformation of your business into a set of linked services, or repeatable business tasks, that can be accessed when needed over a network. This may be a local network, it may be the Internet, or it may be geographically and technologically diverse, combining services in New York, London, and Hong Kong as though they were all installed on your local desktop. These services can coalesce to accomplish a specific business task, enabling your business to quickly adapt to changing conditions and requirements
When SOA implementation is guided by strategic business goals, you ensure the positive transformation of your business and can realize the chief benefits on an SOA, as follows: [/LEFT]
Alignment of IT with the business
Maximal reuse of IT assets
[/ul][LEFT]Together, these help assure that investment in expensive IT projects result in lasting value to the business.
So, how do you tap into SOA, and how does it affect your business? IBM has identified five entry points for ensuring that every SOA-based solution undertaken delivers real business value. Each entry point is coupled with a scenario, or defined approach, that implements the technologies and thus the business values defined in each entry point
SOA entry points
The five entry points defined by IBM -- based upon real customer experiences -- can help you and your business benefit by implementing predefined SOA solutions. These entry points are driven by both business needs (people, process, and information entry points) and IT needs (connectivity and reuse entry points). Here are general descriptions of the five entry points:[/LEFT]
People: This entry point to SOA focuses on the user experience to help generate innovation and greater collaboration, which enables consistent human and process interaction, thus improving business productivity. Using SOA you can, for example, create service-based portlets to increase this collaboration.
Process: The process entry point helps companies know what is happening in their business, allowing them to improve existing business models. Using SOA you can transform your business processes into reusable and flexible services, allowing you to improve and optimize these new processes.
Information: Using this entry point to SOA you can leverage information in your company in a consistent and visible way. By providing this consistent and trusted information throughout all areas of your business, you empower all areas of your company to innovate, thus allowing you to compete more effectively. Using SOA you have better control over your information, and by aligning information with your business processes you can discover interesting new relationships.
Connectivity: Take advantage of the connectivity entry point in order to effectively connect your infrastructure, integrating all of the people, processes, and information in your company. By having flexible SOA connections between services, and throughout your environment, you can take an existing business process and deliver it without much effort through a different business channel. You can even connect to external partners outside your firewall in a secure way.
Reuse: Reusing services with SOA allows you to tap into the services that already exist in your company. By building from your existing resources you can streamline your business processes, ensure consistency throughout your company, and cut development time. All of this saves you time and money. You also reduce any duplication of functionality in your services and get to take advantage of using the proven core applications the people in your company are familiar with.
[/ul][LEFT]We'll match these entry points with various scenarios, using a fictitious company called JK Enterprises, in order to implement a specific SOA approach. Let's first examine the scenarios
Figure 1. SOA entry points and scenarios
You should now be familiar with the five SOA entry points and the eight scenarios, and you should have an understanding how each scenario has multiple realizations to help you implement SOA solutions. Figure 1 shows one example of how you can mix and match these elements to provide various SOA approaches any company can take. To better illustrate these approaches, in the remainder of this article we'll follow along with JK Enterprises as they realize the many benefits of implementing SOA across their company.[/LEFT]