Best practices in SOA deployment discussed

Vendors share experiences of implementing for clients

While technology and the setting of policies often are cited as being critical to SOA governance, an HP official emphasises another key factor: Having the right personnel.

During a web conference, officials from HP, IBM, Software AG and WebLayers all discussed case studies in implementing SOA, recalling experiences at clients such as Thompson Financial, NASA and IBM itself. The online conference was titled "Keys to Business-Critical SOA: Governance IV".

Financial services solution provider Thompson was cited by both HP and WebLayers, who are providing products such as HP Systinet services registry software and WebLayers Centre for SOA governance.

"One thing I want to highlight that really made Thompson successful here also was that right at the beginning of the process, they made a very concerted effort to attract and retain top-notch SOA professionals who understood the importance of governance," said Kelly Emo, HP's director of SOA software product marketing.

"They have more than 800 services in their central repository now," she said.

Scandinavian Airlines deployed SOA to deal with changing requirements, said Miko Matsumura, Software AG vice president and deputy CTO.

"The thing I think they started to do was look toward SOA as a solution for getting a handle on these essentially complex requirements," Matsumura said.

"I think one of the biggest requirements is dealing with heterogeneity," he said. Different groups were dealing with .Net, Java, a Tibco enterprise service bus and a BEA Systems application server. The airline began using the Software AG CentraSite repository for governance, Matsumura said.

Software AG was able to provide the airline with more visibility and control, Matsumura said.

"I think the thing that really resonates with this customer in particular is the concept that change and time inherently produces complexity within IT systems," he said.

"What governance provides essentially is a rational way of managing the change," by providing policies that ensure that complex combinations of things do not result in adverse consequences, said Matsumura.

Working with an unnamed car manufacturer, IBM established a "centre of excellence" around SOA governance, said John Falkl, chief architect for SOA governance in the IBM Software Group.

In working with the company, IBM saw a need to align business and IT, he said.

HP also worked with NASA on its ECHO (Earth Observation System Clearinghouse) program, which supports the Earth-observing community. The project is primarily about data as a service, Emo said.

"What the NASA ECHO project did was instill a governance process and a consistent methodology for enabling all these data services to be published and used both inside NASA and by their partners while they maintained control over how the services were actually published," Emo said.

SOA was used to support publication and discovery of data resources from a number of providers. The project now features 70 million services.

WebLayers helped implement a new architecture at GE Money, which had been spending US$1.1 billion (NZ$1.44 billion) on IT with 70% of that going to maintenance, said Guy Loewy, CTO and co-founder of WebLayers. The company wanted to focus more on new development and had previously failed, with two previous revamp attempts involving a mainframe and new technology from other companies.

"The challenge that they had was they wanted to have global control yet provide each country and specific project control over their own policy," Loewy said.

"The biggest challenge with SOA is around politics and control," he said.

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