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Over the past few weeks I've been talking a number of large enterprises about technology adoption trends, SOA and business process management.

I thought it would be interesting to pull out an example of a company rolling out service oriented architecture to learn from their experiences and perspective.

The company under analysis is a large, multi-billion dollar technology company located in the United States. Like many technology companies, they have two important characteristics: 1) they've grown rapidly, and 2) they have a wide range of heterogeneous applications, including ERP, CRM and other packaged applications from a variety of vendors.

Here are some key points from their SOA strategy:

  • Reasons for SOA. The company is undertaking its move to SOA to increase flexibility and enable further growth. As a company in a fast growing industry, this company is continuing to undergo tremendous growth. In addition, as I noted, it already has a wide range of IT solutions installed. In addition, the company needs to integrate constantly with business partners, customers and other external entities. Thus, it decided it wasn't able to scale its IT systems and applications in a traditional, non-SOA way. Another key driver is the company's business needs-the company wants to have full flexibility to change its business processes as needs dictate. SOA is intended to be a framework for make that all happen.
  • Building blocks approach. Companies can take a variety of approaches for implementing SOA, but this company decided on a step-by-step approach. They've started off by implementing a selected number of services that are core to a number of business processes and deploying them in situations where there's a high degree of confidence that the solution will work. At the same time, however, they are experimenting and piloting SOA solutions in some areas that are not as fully ready for deployment. This dual-track approach allows them to demonstrate short-term success from specific projects while continuing to move the organization towards a strategic, SOA infrastructure.
  • Business process understanding. A key part of their process is undertaking an in-depth exploration of their key business processes to determine what types of services they really need. That analysis then becomes the foundation for building the services that will go into the SOA platform.
  • Starting with the business. It's important to note that while this organization is dedicated to rolling out a SOA infrastructure, it's not dedicated to technology. Instead, the goal has always been to focus on the business processes, taking a rational approach to understanding which ones need to scale and how they could be instantiated as services and working from there. Another way to look at it is that this company is starting the process as a business transformation exercise and then backing that into the SOA deployment.
  • Management and governance. Even though the organization has deployed a limited number of services so far, a key aspect of its overall SOA strategy involves SOA governance and management strategies. Again, since the key goal is to create a long-term infrastructure that will help the business dynamically adjust to market changes, it knows that its SOA infrastructure will require appropriate management and governance to be effective. Thus, they're investing significant time and resources upfront in determining the appropriate governance and management strategies.

So far, the company has been successful in its SOA deployment. Its hybrid or "dual" approach has enabled the IT organization to successful deploy a limited number of core services that fit into the broader foundation for future change. It has also used individual projects to implement services and tools that provide immediate value while building towards a strategic future infrastructure.

About the Author

David Kelly - With twenty years at the cutting edge of enterprise infrastructure, David A. Kelly is ebizQ's Community Manager for Optimizing Business/IT Management. This category includes IT governance, SOA governance,and compliance, risk management, ITIL, business service management,registries and more.

As Community Manager, David will blog and podcast to keep the ebizQ community fully informed on all the important news and breakthroughs relevant to enterprise governance. David will also be responsible for publishing press releases, taking briefings, and overseeing vendor submitted feature articles to run on ebizQ. In addition, each week, David will compile the week's most important news and views in a newsletter emailed out to ebizQ's ever-growing Governance community. David Kelly is ideally suited to be ebizQ's Governing the Infrastructure Community Manager as he has been involved with application development, project management, and product development for over twenty years. As a technology and business analyst, David has been researching, writing and speaking on governance-related topics for over a decade.

David is an expert in Web services, application development, and enterprise infrastructures. As the former Senior VP of Analyst Services at Hurwitz Group, he has extensive experience in translating the implications of new application development, deployment, and management technologies into practical recommendations for enterprise customers. He's written articles for Computerworld, Software Magazine, the New York Times, and other publications, and spoken at conferences such as Comdex, Software Development, and Internet World. With expertise ranging from application development to enterprise management to integration/B2B services to IP networking and VPNs, Kelly can help companies profit from the diversity of a changing technology landscape.

More by David A. Kelly

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ebizQ is the insiderís guide to next-generation business process management. We offer a growing collection of independent editorial articles on BPM trends, issues, challenges and solutions, all targeted to business and IT BPM professionals.

We cover BPM standards, governance, technology and continuous process improvement, as well as process discovery, modeling, simulation and optimization, among many other areas. We follow case management, decision management, business rules management, operational intelligence, complex event processing and other related topics. We closely track important trends such as the rise of social BPM, mobile BPM and BPM in the cloud. We also explore BPMís use in functional areas, such as supply chain and customer management, and in key verticals, such as financial services, health care, insurance and government.

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