Enterprise SOA implementation and management for CIOs

SOA, when implemented properly, is the foundation upon which enterprise IT services communicate with one another. This CIO Briefing gathers our top SOA content to get your IT services talking.

Service-oriented architecture (SOA), when implemented properly, is the foundation upon which enterprise IT services communicate with one another. Without it, various IT services would live in little worlds unto themselves, unaware of the others existence. This CIO Briefing gathers our top enterprise SOA implementation and management resources to get your IT services talking again.

This guide is part of the SearchCIO.com CIO Briefing series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic guidance and advice that addresses the management and decision-making aspects of timely topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date, visit the CIO Briefing section.

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SOA and BPM: A mutually beneficial partnership

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More companies are recognizing that the intersection of service-oriented architecture (SOA) and business process management (BPM) offers opportunities to streamline technology and package it in exciting new ways.

A successful BPM engagement requires the IT department to work collaboratively with the appropriate stakeholders to understand what the business is trying to accomplish, said Ethan Smith, partner and BPM practice lead at BusinessEdge Solutions Inc., a strategy and technology consulting firm in East Brunswick, N.J. "Somebody has to be the champion here of the business architecture and the system architecture," Smith says. "But it gets overlooked quite frequently."

The first step is to conduct what Smith calls a business process analysis to identify areas where SOA can be used effectively. In the insurance industry, the first step in nearly any process is to verify the eligibility of the caller or computer user. That's an area where SOA methodology works well, creating a program used by many systems to perform that one task.

"I think everyone buys into [SOA]," Smith said. "Now, the question becomes how to cost-effectively deliver on it, not just to understand how it makes sense from a conceptual perspective but how to make it work, and that's where BPM comes in."

Learn more in "SOA and BPM: A mutually beneficial partnership." Also:

SOA projects fail to deliver as expected

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Most service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects fail to deliver ROI, according to a new report from Nucleus Research Inc.

Nucleus Research surveyed 106 organizations and found that only 37% of SOA projects demonstrated ROI.

"People do succeed some of the time in getting benefits from SOA in the form of improved developer productivity," said David O'Connell, senior analyst at the Wellesley, Mass.-based research firm. "What we found, though, was that adoption tended to be somewhat narrow. People tend to get into SOA in an ad hoc or departmental basis."

O'Connell said adoption of SOA tends to get "stranded." He said a major value of SOA is the concept of reuse. In SOA, developers create software that performs general functions or "services" that can work in different business contexts. These services can be strung together in an architecture to perform business processes. A major advantage of such architecture is that many of the software services can be reused, saving time and resources and speeding deployment in application development.

Find out more in "SOA projects fail to deliver as expected." Also:

  • How SOA projects get funding, part one
    In this Q&A Lance Hill of webMethods Inc. identifies the four different funding models in the world of IT in order to help those pitching SOA projects.
  • How SOA projects get funding, part two
    In part two of this Q&A, Lance Hill of webMethods Inc. tells architects and developers how they can best build a case to convince business executives of the value of SOA projects.

ROI focus possible, but not easy for SOA investment

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Justifying payback on a service-oriented architecture (SOA) investment can be relatively straightforward and productive for CIOs as long as they know what to expect from SOA and how to manage or govern SOA projects, according to industry experts. Bottom line: CIOs need to analyze ROI through the lens of business objectives, not technology ones.

SOA's big promise is that it enables affordable, consistent integration of heterogeneous applications across the enterprise using open source, Web-based technology. Open source standards not only make interoperability and reuse possible, but they also reduce development costs by opening interfaces and providing more options. The flexibility of SOA makes core system upgrades less risky, and more manageable, effective and secure.

However, measuring ROI on SOA is far from a walk in the park. Before embarking on an SOA project, companies need to have a governance plan that addresses decision-making, measurements and controls, and achievements from SOA, said Rod Butters, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Tidal Software Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif.

Learn more in "ROI focus possible, but not easy for SOA investment." Also:

  • Get more ROI from your SOA investment
    Find out how to get ROI from SOA projects, and make sure your CEO gets the point of service-oriented architectures.
  • Finding the ROI in SOA
    As anyone who has worked with SOAs and Web services can attest, it can be tough to know ahead of time what return on investment (ROI) a project can return. This column offers advice on where to look for ROI.

More resources

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This was first published in January 2007
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