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What, exactly, is the relationship between service oriented architecture (SOA) and business process management (BPM)? There has been and continues to be some confusion abou this, as well as the value proposition of the two disciplines.

There is a persistent perception that SOA is complex and often does not deliver on its promise or potential. However, there is an equally opposite perception on the overall success and return on investment (ROI) in BPM.

The SOA challenges can often be attributed to lack of SOA methodology, poor governance, and unrealistic - even na´ve- expectations of what it takes to modernize or transform organizations with SOA. In contrast, the BPM success can be attributed to the tangible and direct value of BPM for the business stakeholders.

How can SOA governance increase agility and cut costs? Learn how right here.
Yes, these are generalizations. There are, of course, many successful SOA initiatives, as well as numerous BPM projects which have faced challenges. But overall, SOA is seen as complex, BPM is seen as the path to success.

Despite these perceptions, SOA is becoming ubiquitous. Service orientation provides the ability to loosely couple applications, trading partners, and organizations, and invoke them via service calls. Service orientation attempts to realize this through standard protocols. Re-Use of common services is an essential feature of SOA. These services are organized in a SOA registry and repository. For message transformation, transport mapping, service containment, as well as reliability and security of service exchanges, SOA solutions often utilize enterprise service buses (ESBs). Service orientation enables internal as well as external trading partners to participate in distributed service orchestrations. Each party complies with agreed upon protocols and carries out its part in the overall execution of services from diverse organizations. SOA has been touted to be responsive to change, agile, enabling building and maintaining re-usable services - with an IT focus.

BPM, on the other hand, is about modeling, automating, monitoring and continuously improving business processes. BPM involves human participants - not just enterprise applications or services. These people have roles and skills within extended enterprises. BPM supports different flavors of business process flows; rich categories of business rules such as decision, event correlation, expressions, and constraints; and robust information models for handling the operational process data potentially involving services, organizations, human participants and even trading partners.


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