Enterprising Developments

Seven Key FAQs on SOA: How to be as Service Oriented as You Can Be

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, May 31, 2011

Just a couple of years ago, service oriented architecture was dead. Now, it's everywhere. How so?  Because every organization is at least contemplating a move to cloud – public, private, or hybrid – and need the supporting infrastructure to make it viable. That's what SOA is all about – as the “A” in SOA suggests, an effective cloud-based project needs architecture.

But there is still no shortage of confusion about what SOA is, and what it's supposed to do for the organization. In a recent book, Kerrie Holley and Dr. Ali Arsanjani, both IBMers, have made a mighty effort to clear up the confusion and address the 100 top-of-mind SOA questions. Their book, "100 SOA Questions Asked and Answered," focuses on what businesses need to know about SOA.

Here are seven key FAQs from Kerrie and Ali's book:

What makes a project an SOA implementation?  “The deployment of services makes a project an SOA implementation.”

Why should business stakeholders care about SOA?  “Companies that need customizable solutions or use IT for competitive value, companies working to leverage IT capabilities for business advantage, these are companies that should care about SOA.”

How should SOA be sold to the business or business stakeholder?  “Instead of focusing on SOA, organizations should ask themselves what problem they are trying to solve... a business scenario should describe something the business cannot do today, something it desperately wants to do, something that if SOA were applied would then become viable.”

What is the return on investment of SOA adoption? “SOA reduces the lifetime cost of an IT solution, and this is a key ROI metric... improved flexibility is another key SOA metric.”

How should the business measure the effectiveness of SOA? “Measuring the effectiveness of SOA starts with identifying specific value propositions and assigning a suitable metric for assessing and tracking.” Potential metrics include: improving IT's ability to respond to the businesses' needs; speeding up delivery time; improving the flexibility of applications; reducing the lifetime cost of applications; reducing the cost of integration.

What should the business or business stakeholders do differently because of SOA?  “The process by which business and IT communicate about requirements changes with SOA, and the business maintains some artifacts around requirements changes with SOA, and the process models. This means the application will no longer what the business does; the business will dictate what applications must do.”

What are the common pitfalls from a business vantage in adopting SOA?  “Many companies are still on a journey to improve dialog between IT and business, and mistakenly believe SOA can help them reach their intended destination without organizational change and governance...  Many organizations have not fundamentally changed their ability to respond to the business as a result of SOA -- largely because of ineffective SOA governance... and little to no measurement program.”

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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