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IBM Seeks to Enable More SOA Deployments


IBM today announced new software and services to help customers to quickly and easily take advantage of the growing marketplace trend towards service oriented architecture (SOA).

IBM released the following details for publication:

The major barriers to SOA success are often related to determining how to ‘get into’ an SOA, avoiding additional costs, and ensuring that investments are allocated toward a business strategy that will withstand market fluctuations and company changes. The new software and services help address these challenges and are based on IBM’s expertise with an estimated 1,800 SOA customer engagements in companies of all sizes across all industries.

“An SOA plays a strategic role in any company – from a retailer to a car manufacturer to a financial institution – because it enables people to collaborate and innovate, identify new business opportunities, and move the customers’ needs to the forefront,” said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Software Group.

The automotive industry illustrates how companies can greatly benefit from an SOA because a service oriented strategy provides a closer alignment of technology with business. IBM customers Pep Boys and Magna Steyr are using an IBM-based SOA that has resulted in increased customer satisfaction, employee productivity and overall improved supply chain integration. Harley-Davidson is simplifying its systems integration through an IBM-based SOA.

Pep Boys – Manny, Moe and Jack – is the nation’s leading automotive and after market retail and service chain that turned to IBM to build an SOA to increase customer satisfaction.

“We struggled with identifying the most effective way to service our customers, fend off competitors and make sure that we have a strategic approach to integrating all of our 593 stores without losing profit due to tactical missteps in our operations,” said Bob Berckman, assistant vice president, Pep Boys. “With an IBM-based SOA, we’re able to pinpoint gaps in productivity and customer service before they negatively impact our business.”

One of Harley-Davidson’s SOA projects is designed to tackle the credit and loan origination process. Using an SOA to integrate the various stages associated with motorcycle loans including credit applications, credit approvals and loan origination, Harley-Davidson can more quickly and easily develop financing strategies based on its customers’ unique needs.

“It’s easy to see how the success of Harley-Davidson’s financial services SOA project can be repeated in other parts of our company as the need to integrate different sources of information and automate processes is not exclusive to credit and loan origination,” said Jim Haney, CIO, Harley-Davidson. “In addition to the obvious time and cost savings that an SOA can help deliver, we’ll be able to improve the customer experience by reducing the turnaround time required to complete a financial transaction and get our customers on our motorcycles faster.”

Magna Steyr, the world’s leading, brand-independent engineering and manufacturing partner to automakers, has created dynamic new processes for the exchange of automotive design information between customers and suppliers worldwide. Through an SOA created with technology from IBM and IBM Business Partner Prostep, Magna Steyr is able to lower costs, improve productivity and enhance its marketplace competitiveness.

IBM Software and Services Help Eliminate SOA Barriers to Entry

Based on proven best practices and third-party research, IBM has identified five entry points to enable customers to more easily approach and initiate an SOA project. These entry points include people-, process- and information-centric approaches as well as connectivity and the ability to reuse existing assets. Today, IBM is announcing four new software releases targeted toward these SOA starting points as well as a set of industry-specific models to support SOA. Additionally, IBM is announcing new SOA services.

For supporting a people-centric approach to SOA, WebSphere Portal version 6.0 integrates IBM Workplace and collaborative technologies, making it easier for users to build and deploy composite applications that can be tailored by industry, role or task. The new release takes advantage of AJAX to create a more responsive user environment. Additionally, the latest version provides a workflow builder that utilizes the process engine from WebSphere Process Server, open standards-based software powered by WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) that helps simplify the integration of business processes. These capabilities, along with templates designed to accelerate application deployment, allow organizations to increase the effectiveness of their business and IT staff through the application of an SOA.

To improve business visibility and deliver a process-centric approach to SOA, IBM announces WebSphere Business Monitor version 6.0. This software provides an aerial view of the business and enables customers to proactively identify potential issues before they impact productivity. New features in WebSphere Business Monitor include business alerts, links to third party reports that combine real-time performance and historical analysis, and scorecards to track the status and metrics of projects. For example, the software allows a business user to create an automated alert signaling each time a competitor makes a market-shifting move. The alert could be integrated with third party research, customer feedback and recommended next steps that could help minimize the impact of a competitor’s move on the market.

For an information-centric approach to SOA, IBM is delivering industry-specific models to help clients successfully launch their SOA initiatives. The enhanced IBM Banking Information FrameWork and IBM Insurance Application Architecture models provide a set of critical processes, workflows, and activities to help organizations reengineer their business processes to implement strategic initiatives such as master data management. These IBM models, methodologies and services bring together key components to provide a single view of customer information, thereby enabling a successful SOA and enterprise master data management strategy.

Reuse capabilities are among the most highly sought after requirements in building an SOA because reuse can be up to five times less expensive than writing new applications*. IBM’s new software that focuses on enabling reuse and easier SOA management is WebSphere Application Server version 6.1 and WebSphere Commerce version 6.0.

Consistently ranked as the application server marketplace leader, WebSphere Application Server boasts many new features including session initiation protocol (SIP) servlets to reduce the complexity of an SOA as it grows to include additional applications such as voice, video, and instant messaging. The new security features in WebSphere Application Server include default security configurations and a default user registry for improved identity management as well as the government standard Common Criteria Assurance Level 4 Certification for independent validation that WebSphere Application Server will be effective in delivering authentication and user data protection and audits. Also included in WebSphere Application Server is the IBM Installation Factory, a sophisticated tool that streamlines the installation process by reducing it to one step.

WebSphere Commerce now includes several significant new features. First, the new software provides companies with a consistent view of the customer across all sales channels. Also, WebSphere Commerce now includes a set of tools that enable merchants to easily replicate the online experience in their store to deliver more personalized customer service. Additionally, new capabilities simplify development and management of transactions while maximizing productivity for customers, partners and employees.

IBM Global Services is strengthening its SOA capabilities with new services designed for the successful creation of an SOA throughout its lifecycle – model, assemble, deploy, manage – while ensuring customers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to independently extend an SOA. These new services help customers with readiness, implementation and management of an SOA.

The services include the Infrastructure Services Readiness Engagement for SOA to help assess and ensure that the customers’ infrastructure is prepared to undergo the creation of an SOA. Next are additional IBM Design and Implementation Services for SOA including support for WebSphere middleware, DataPower appliances, and Tivoli management and security for SOA. For management, IBM now offers the IT Service Management Design for SOA, IBM Performance Management Testing for SOA, and the SOA Business Dashboard and new maintenance services for SOA.

IBM’s new SOA entry points skills training program – based on the five entry points to SOA – will also be delivered throughout IBM Global Services. All of the SOA services complement IBM’s software and appliances, yet are not a requirement for SOA success.

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