Gaining Traction with SOA – What Every CIO Should Consider

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) adoption is on the rise—promising businesses improved agility, closer alignment between system solution and business need and increased efficiency through reuse. To the CIO, an SOA approach expands options for cost reduction, speed-to-market and custom solution fit.

As businesses realize the early benefits of SOA deployment, adoption has increased significantly. In addition to enabling new functionality, SOA often extends the value of existing mainframe and other “legacy” environments. Gartner predicts that 80% of all new applications in the next two years will be SOA based, and Gartner’s Top 10 Technology list for 2008 includes several technologies considered to be SOA predecessors.

For this new architectural approach to deliver on its promise, SOA services must be continuously available and the underlying data must be accurate and up-to-date.

Best of Breed and the Promise of SOA

SOA significantly shifts the age old debate between best of breed and integrated software in favor of best of breed. SOA eliminates the need to rely on one or a small number of software providers in order to achieve ease-of-use and economies of scale. Integrated software is no longer the only way to decrease complexity and reduce cost.

With the mass consolidation in the software tools development market, as well among database and application vendors, SOA is quickly becoming the standard for many organizations. The promise of SOA for today’s CIO means liberation from the cost and capability restrictions that arise from single-sourced software solutions.

The intent of SOA is two-fold: to enable vendor interoperability and to support easy integration of data residing in multiple heterogeneous databases and applications. SOA gives CIOs greater flexibility when researching new technologies for adoption to meet their business needs. With SOA, CIOs can also quickly add needed services or capabilities to existing systems, without having to wait (and hope) for the next release of that system from their existing vendor. Along with the immediate functional benefits that SOA can bring, organizations are looking for ways to deliver results to the business faster, especially in the area of real-time data availability.

Maximizing SOA Effectiveness – Data Integration

Both service availability and data integrity are critical to a successful SOA implementation. A service built across multiple business applications must contain the most current, accurate and complete data from its sources. Successful SOA spotlights the requirement for effective data integration. Data integration is not a new challenge for CIOs. What is new is that current SOA offerings dramatically simplify this challenge.

When designing an SOA environment, IT architects frequently use a database or service specifically designed for an SOA environment. This helps to better manage underlying data coming from multiple heterogeneous systems on a single target database.

Many organizations still use custom-designed scripts to move data between their legacy environments and open systems platforms or databases. This adds a time, cost and flexibility burden on development resources that must then continuously modify, test and implement changes to these custom scripts. Without a different solution, organizations undergoing the shift to SOA heighten this burden as more users access more services and data. Similarly, the burden of data synchronization is heightened as well.