Monday 3 November 2008

IBM's Smart SOA

IBM is spending millions of advertising dollars on promoting what they call as smart SOA. After ignoring for so many months, I finally decided to look into it. Following are my notes that are trying to capture the essence of smart SOA without any IBM advertising!

Smart SOA is a set of guiding principles based on IBM's thousands of real-life deployments and experiences with SOA. IBM defines four approaches for adoption of SOA: Fundamental, Extend End-to-End, Transform and Adapt Dynamically. Fundamental approach involves departmental, very focused projects to meet an individual business need. IBM has defined five entry points as the means to pursue this approach viz. reuse, connectivity, people, process and information. Projects associated with Reuse entry point typically involve creating reusable service-based business components out of existing IT systems. The connectivity entry point links people, processes and information in the business through the use of an intermediary service gateway or bus. The people entry point improves productivity by aggregating services as views, as well as enabling human interaction in the context of the business process. Common projects associated with process entry point include automating and optimizing manual business processes and human workflows. Finally the information entry point provides access as reusable services to complex, heterogeneous data sources within an enterprise.

The Extend end-to-end approach involves collaboration between business and IT to optimize and bring greater innovation to business processes that span the organization and extend beyond it. BPM enabled with SOA along with maintaining integrity across the processes is a major component of this approach. The Transform approach is a broader approach than the earlier ones as it involves using technology for strategic advantage. It is about innovating the business model itself as opposed to the individual end-to-end business processes through which that business model is implemented. Finally Adapt Dynamically approach involves creating a predictive business that responds to market forces in a semi-automated, intelligent way. It embeds a belief that the emerging ideal of rapid transformation in a semi-automated way will become increasingly possible as a critical mass of service providers in the ecosystem adopt SOA to enable the business to respond with agility to business opportunities.

IMHO, the first approach is the one which will be used by majority of enterprises as of today. Few innovative companies will go for second or third approach. The fourth approach seems to be quite futuristic though it provides a grand vision for SOA adoption.

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