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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

SOA Powers the Railroad Renaissance

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Railroads are intensive operations, requiring the heavy-duty scheduling of loads and trains to maximize efficiency and cut fuel costs.

Lately, the railroad industry has been undergoing a resurgence, as shippers realize that trains provide the most cost-effective ways to get goods from docks in the major port cities to consumers across the country. Warren Buffet certainly recognized the potential of railroads when he plunked down $34 billion last November to buy Burlington Northern Railroad.

Thirty years ago, railroads were considered an anachronism of a by-gone era. Now, they're looked upon as the future.

That's why Union Pacific Railroad, which has routes all across the Southwest, knew it needed to update and upgrade its legacy systems to prepare for the new golden age of railroading. Thomas Hoffman, writing in ComputerWorld, describes how the transportation giant evolved its 40-year-old mainframe system to one that meets the requirements of an alert-driven, workflow-based world -- using service oriented architecture methodologies.

As Hoffman describes it, Union Pacific plans to invest roughly $200 million in a new transportation distribution network that's being completed in stages through 2013. The emerging network, dubbed NetControl, is being written in Java EE and is based on an SOA-based platform running on Apache Web server, Hibernate query software and SpringSource's Java application management tools.

The company plans to phase out its mainframe by 2013.

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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