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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

Shining Examples of SOA in Action in 2008 (2)

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Here is the second part of our review of SOA implementations that surfaced in the year 2008.

To speed up the pace of mergers and acquisitions. A recent acquisition doubled Mohawk Fine Papers' manufacturing network doubled to six sites, and distribution network quadrupled to four warehouses. From past experience, Mohawk's IT team knew how painful custom development and integration could be. As Paul Stamas, Mohawk's VP of IT, said: "The biggest problem was managing all the interfaces. The failures in the previous integration were point-to-point connections that nobody owned." So Mohawk took a new tact -- SOA. The company was able to quickly integrate its existing ERP with the a new transportation management solution deployed recently to replace an older application.

To open up data across the enterprise. Proctor & Gamble is working on an ambitious service oriented architecture that will provide aggregated data for the company's 32,000 managers. To accomplish this, the company will be re-using up to half of its internally developed code across the organization, which will be made available as shared services across the enterprise. The company has already rolled out SOA to 2,000 users, helping to achieve up to 25% of reuse.

To increase logistics efficiency. A $5 billion logistics and trucking company ought to know plenty about economies of scale. It may cost $1,000 to ship one refrigerator from New York to Los Angeles, but cost a penny if it's intelligently bundled with another shipment. Con-Way has been applying this multiplier effect to its information technology infrastructure, with significant paybacks over the long run. Con-Way set out a number of years ago not knowing how much services would be reused -- but this was very much their design goal. "When we built services at that point in time, we built every piece of functionality as a reusable piece of code," said Shibashis Mukherjee, Con-Way lead enterprise architect. "We had no idea whether it was going to be reused or not." However, reuse across the company's various business lines took off. "You don't generally see the benefits in the first project you do. We also had executive management buy-in and we had a long-term vision. So as project after project is done, our development time was cut as we reused components built by the previous projects."

To support global development. The US Peace Corps overhauled its centralized, siloed mainframe system to a service-oriented architecture methodologies to help keep track of and provide information services to its varied overseas activities. Ram Murthy, director of application systems at the Peace Corps, recognized that a highly distributed organization -- spread across 70 countries -- needed a far more distributed IT infrastructure than the mainframe system it formerly relied on. Overseas users were unable to access the mainframe. The Peace Corps' SOA effort began in 2006, when Murthy's team was authorized $1 million in funding to start moving applications off the mainframe into a more distributed computing environment based on the .NET framework. The result was three applications that support posts and volunteers in the field: Crime and Incident Reporting, Site Enhancement and Development, and the Volunteer Information Database Application (VIDA).

SOA to modernize "special" applications with linited reuse potential. Allstate Insurance moved to SOA to standardize a generation of "special" systems it had built over the decades. Allstate's vice president of technical solutions, Anthony Abbatista, said his company managed to automate most of its systems and processes in the 1960s and 1970s with hand-crafted and hand-coded "special applications." Everything from policy administration to underwriting was captured on the company's array of mainframe computers. However, the company needed more responsive and agile IT solutions to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment for the insurance industry. It needed to embark on a more consolidated, service oriented architecture if its systems were to continue to deliver value. Areas being modernized include claims processing, which was spread across nine different mainframe-based silos tied together by custom-built middleware. The company employed a standard enterprise service bus to handle claims processing through a single interface across the entire enterprise. Another initiative was to establish a common integration layer for the company's fast-growing data environment.

To eliminate silos. Farm Credit Canada (FCC) employed SOA methodologies to restructure itself from a silo organization, with each silo supporting applications for a particular business function, to a "service-centered" model, where applications are constructed according to service oriented architecture (SOA) principles. The transformation of FCC to a process-centric organization is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011.

To restructure customer offerings. SJ, the Swedish railroad, integrated its ticket sales with online auctions, to move seats not sold 48 hours before departure would be auctioned online. The railroad turned to SOA to make this capability possible within its enterprise framework. North State Communications turned to SOA to facilitate a billing system transformation. The company employed ESBs and JBoss to automate the way it makes services available to customers.

To help plan regional natural resource consumption. The Southwest Florida Water Management District originally managed data and transactions on a mainframe system, but in planning for is Water Management Information System (WMIS) -- designed to automate and streamline the paper- and time-intensive well-construction permitting process -- it was decided to move off the mainframe and onto a distributed system developed to support SOA approaches. The new system will better automate the permit application and approval process, while providing Web access and supporting geospatial data. The District reports that 86% of its 17,000 annual permits for well construction are now handled electronically, and 35% of Web services applications are reusable across the agency.

2 Comments

Love the article - highlighted on http://www.thesoablog.com

I love the tutorials. Would love to see more. Thanks!!

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SBL Software

In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more

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