Gaining Traction with SOA – What Every CIO Should Consider

One significant benefit from SOA is that more users can and will quickly have increased access to more services and data. That’s good.

But if that benefit causes an increase from, for instance, 100 to 1000 users simultaneously accessing the same system, production can be severely impacted, even potentially causing system outages. That’s bad.

When adopting an SOA, CIOs must focus on the infrastructure’s capability to assure performance and data availability in real-time.

For example, during a credit service approval process, information may need to be pulled from a customer’s credit score, payment history and bank accounts. Applications that use this service know nothing of the details—they simply send a customer number and receive an approval or denial from the credit approval service. Making this composite service work often requires creation of a new data store that draws information from multiple source systems, and the data may need to be transformed into a new, consolidated format.

If the underlying data is not current, the overall result may be incorrect. If a customer’s payment history shows prompt payments but the current balance shows a large outstanding invoice, the service may reject this customer’s credit request, even though updated information would show a “paid” balance.

SOA runtime tools are typically able to manage service operations but they fall short of managing the data that drives those operations. Custom-designed data integration solutions while still a common practice are often insufficient for the new SOA world. For optimal results, CIOs should consider implementing a solution that provides both up to date information and continuous access to the data. Essentially, there is little value in implementing an SOA solution if the data is neither accurate nor continuously available.

Conclusion – SOA and the Data

SOA allows today’s CIO the opportunity to research the most effective tools and solutions on the market without falling victim to vendor lock-in. But a word of caution that without the freshest and most accurate information, the entire implementation can create more challenges than benefits.

As enterprise SOA adoption continues, services must remain continuously available and the underlying data should be both timely and complete. Any service that runs on poor or missing data is of little value to a business and in fact can often be detrimental. By increasing the availability, timeliness and accuracy of SOA data, the business can be assured a successful SOA implementation which in turn, increases business agility, suitability-of-solution-fit and economic efficiency.

Ken Harris is the CIO of Shaklee Corporation, the No.1 natural nutrition company in the U.S. As CIO of this privately-held, mid-market company Ken is responsible for providing cost-efficient, world class technology solutions. Prior to Shaklee, Ken has been CEO of Retail-in-Genius, SVP and CIO of Gap, Inc., Nike and Pepsi Cola. Ken serves on several technology Boards, including the Golden Gate Software advisory board.