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Best practices for a SOA implementation and application integration

A service-oriented architecture (SOA) implementation and application integration allow information to be transferred and supported efficiently. Learn more about SOA best practices.

A service-oriented architecture (SOA) is the underlying structure supporting communications between services, defining how two computing entities interact such as to enable one entity to perform work on behalf of another. Having an SOA strategy for application integration allows a company to quickly create, consolidate and deploy services for rapidly changing business needs.

In this guide, learn about the benefits and challenges of using an SOA strategy in your application integration initiatives and best practices for a successful SOA implementation, using our news, tips, expert advice and case studies.

This guide is part of SearchCIO.com's 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 Briefings section.

SOA strategies and trends

Building a service-oriented architecture requires significant IT and business collaboration to ensure that IT builds the right services and that different business silos don't create duplicative services in a vacuum. SOA governance is the way to build in the processes and checks and balances to ensure your company does SOA right, and doesn't end up with a mess like a bank that built hundreds of services only to find out that one-third of them were redundant.

Whether you are gearing up for an SOA implementation or taking a step back to reassess the direction of an initiative, here are key steps to take to establish and maintain SOA governance.

Understand the overall picture of what you are trying to accomplish, not from a technology perspective but from a business perspective, said Todd Biske, a senior enterprise architect at $11 billion agricultural company Monsanto Co. and author of the book SOA Governance.

Get five more steps in "SOA governance: How and why to build it into your SOA initiative." Also:

  • SOA and Web services: What you need to know
    SOA and Web services offer benefits including improved data integration, process improvement and ROI. Learn best practices for implementing and managing SOA and Web services.
  • Bury SOA inside a larger architectural vision
    The call to action is to do SOA with a business focus and bury it inside a larger architectural vision.
  • SOA adoption marked by broad failure and wild success
    Burton Group presents its SOA Report Card. Its findings? Most users are getting it wrong because they focus too much on IT and integration and not enough on the business.
  • A move to cloud computing should involve SOA and BPM
    Enterprises preparing for cloud computing should involve SOA and BPM to achieve transformational change.

SOA implementation advice

Aleks Buterman, founding partner of IT consulting company SenseAgility LLC, has seen SOA projects lose focus and stall because the team in charge is not documenting project stages and what has been achieved. "SOA is not just one project, it is a continuous process and there will be challenges. So when something comes up, be sure you can show what you've been able to achieve," he said.

And don't let the project take on a life of its own. Governance, regardless of the size of your organization, should be in place so that different departments and IT staff members aren't working in silos.

Learn more in "Successful SOA means a long process made of small projects." Also:

  • SOA implementation: It's the increments, stupid
    As SOA has grown up, it has developed a penchant for being big -- and late. Now, SOA advisors remind application developers and integrators to right-size their projects for early success.
  • SOA Implementation: Should top down meet bottom up?
    One application development service provider says a balance between top-down and bottom-up SOA models is needed.
  • Six ways to fail with your SOA implementation
    A service-oriented architecture is one way to make application development more agile, a growing business requirement. Here are the top risks for SOA failure, so you get it right.
  • SOA Source Book delivers step-by-step implementation guidelines
    The Open Group, a consortium focused on open standards and global interoperability within and between enterprises, has released the first edition of SOA Source Book.

SOA best practices in the enterprise

Whether to buy or reconfigure SOA products depends on what you already possess in the way of software, according to Gartner Inc. analyst W. Roy Schulte.

"In a number of cases, a company doesn't have to pay anything, in software licenses at least, to do SOA. They already own the licenses to enough basic middleware (application servers, development tools) to do the SOA they need," said Schulte, vice president and distinguished analyst, application architecture and middleware, at the Stamford, Conn.-based consultancy.

"SOA only starts to cost more in software licenses if you have a very old software infrastructure or if you are getting into high-volume SOA with lots of services, especially on heterogeneous platforms. That's when you start to need ESBs [enterprise service buses], registry/repository tools and governance tools, and so on."

That was the case for CIO Erin Griffin, whose recent foray into SOA architecture progressed from using SOA principles to build open source-based Web services to the purchase of Oracle Corp.'s SOA Suite to effect business transformation.

Learn more in "SOA implementation evolves from open source to Oracle SOA suite." Also:

  • How BPM and SOA work together for business process improvement
    Enterprises should marry their BPM and SOA efforts if they really want reuse -- and true business process improvement.
  • SOA success stories involve business process management
    SOA and Web services work great for application integration, but the real payoff comes when you rework business processes. Still, there are challenges.
  • U.S. Coast Guard adopts SOA and ESB to better track ships at sea
    Upgrading to SOA, the U.S. Coast Guard implemented a Fiorano ESB for its new tracking system. Find out how.
  • 'SOA is working' for Edinburgh financial company
    Standard Life's technology director reports SOA savings -- but says SOA efforts should start small.
  • IBM SOA strategist Carter sees business processes under scrutiny
    Business processes will come under new scrutiny in today's tough economic setting, IBM's Sandy Carter told the SOA Consortium in Washington.

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