Building an SOA to Your Company’s Specifications

At a recent ebizQ Webinar, “You Can’t Implement an SOA with Web Services,” Dr. Ian Howells discussed the prospects of strategically utilizing service-oriented architectures to reuse applications and rationalize disparate systems resulting from M&A, instead of developing new ones. You can hear the entire Webinar replay at

The Webinar addressed how to help your company build high-value composite applications on top of existing infrastructure while providing a graceful means to retire legacy applications as they reach their natural end-of-life.

The speakers, including SeeBeyond’s chief technology officer Ross Altman, discussed the value of incrementally building a service-oriented architecture specifically tailored to your company’s individual needs, instead of pursuing a “rip-and-replace” strategy, noting that the costs for ripping out entire systems are not just measurable in dollars but in the turmoil that can be caused if it isn’t done right.

Howells, who is chief of worldwide marketing at SeeBeyond, cited the fact that IT budgets are increasing as a whole across most industries, and up to 50 percent is being spent in most departments on new applications up from 20 percent . While outwardly this is a good thing, Howells said, this creates an interesting problem, because while it would appear that there is adequate funding for IT, the fact is that perfectly reusable applications are being neglected and money is potentially being wasted on new applications that are not essentially different from the old ones.

There are several inter-related critical areas to consider before building an SOA with existing infrastructure, including the need for IT application rationalization. Howells noted that with mergers and applications affecting many companies, you can have numerous disparate systems managing the supply chain, which can create many problems that need to be identified and worked out.

Howells discussed the necessity of adding new applications to comply with new standards, such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. He added that it is very important to “introduce new applications in a graceful way,” and make balanced decisions to add new systems, retire legacy applications or continue to use existing systems with either development tweaks or complete overhauls, with old systems perhaps running in parallel in the meantime while a composite application is being developed.

“It’s about the business value you can get from developing the infrastructure,” Howells said. He added that when one is making decisions on what applications to keep and which to retire, it is important to be “strategy-driven by business objectives, organizational patterns and projects,” and not by what is most convenient or simple.

Switching data flow to legacy or new systems can be one of the most difficult tasks when implementing a service-oriented architecture, Howells said. It is important to rationalize the many “silos of systems, with inconsistent data and inconsistent processes.”

Listen in to the Webinar for further details, more advice and real-world examples on incrementally building up your company’s SOA at

About the Author

Elizabeth Book Kratz has been Editor-in-Chief at ebizQ since 2004. Her business, technology and analytical writing has been published in the International Herald Tribune’s Germany edition -- the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung-Weekly, the Jerusalem Post, National Defense Magazine, the Johns Hopkins Journal of American Politics, the British Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal Europe and many others. She is a 2003-2004 fellow of the Robert Bosch Foundation, and holds memberships in the Atlantic Bridge and the Düsseldorf Institute for Foreign and Security Policy. Elizabeth can be reached at editor at

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