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Phasing in SOA and Web Services

Web services / SOA are new concepts. How do you separate the hype from the reality?

Over the last couple of years, the industry has rallied around SOA and its main realization platform - Web services. While many of the clients I meet are still wary about the adoption of new technology, integration dilemmas posed by the variety of software and hardware platforms has led them to buy into the promise of improving on business agility through SOA. The ubiquitous nature of Web services is something that even business owners appreciate, as they have been burned before by the disparity in the technologies that their applications have been based on.

Many of the clients I have met for assessing the feasibility and process of adopting SOA have similar questions. Often it takes a bit of cross-questioning to understand the actual intent of these questions, as some of them are so generic that you can always answer them with a "one size fits all" approach. However, this would not help in addressing the actual issues. Some of the commonly asked questions are as follows.

How do we implement SOA and Web services at our organization? This is, of course, a very generic question. However, upon digging further into the source, basically the clients are interested in knowing how they can redo their existing applications so that they can achieve a better level of integration within their enterprise. The main concern here is that there are existing applications that are already deployed. What is the best way to plan an iterative approach for adopting Web services, while minimizing business impact?

How do you keep track of how Web services are being utilized once they are implemented? This basically translates into two aspects of Web services management - the value provided to the end customers who are consuming the service, and the management of Web services to track usage.

Web services / SOA are new concepts. How do you separate the hype from the reality? Again, this is a very generic question. The real question here it for the project sponsor (the one who is trying to bring this substantial change into the organization) to be able to present the cost-benefit analysis of adopting SOA and Web services. The technologies and the concepts may promise the world with a fence around it, but how does one practically measure the success of a project and justify the cost incurred in introducing the change?

How do we do reusable business services when many projects are in transition? This is a very valid concern. Web services will obviously be introduced into a dynamic environment, unless the company is just starting to build their product. Many of the projects will be well underway. How does one plan to continue projects on their existing path while adopting the new paradigms?

How can we promote and deliver on the promise of reuse? How do we incorporate a governance process so that reusable services are introduced into a multitude of applications? At the same time, how can we extract reusable services from different applications? This requires a center of excellence or a governance body to be set up at the onset, so that maximum reuse can be derived from the project. This also requires a formalized strategy that promotes the adoption of industry standards and their percolation throughout the organization.

What are the performance impacts of adopting Web services? The meaning of the question is obvious. What is not clear is how the project can justify the degradation in performance against the benefits achieved by moving to an SOA through Web services. This is, again, a cost-benefit question.

These questions need to be addressed before starting a project. Addressing such questions and concerns requires a careful assessment of the client's environment. This in turn requires answering another series of questions. What is the skillset of their existing resources? What technology base are they starting from - are their applications based on a messaging infrastructure or are they primarily based on synchronous interactions? The best way to mitigate the risks involved in the adoption of SOA and Web services and to address client concerns is to invest in a planning and analysis phase that addresses and answers these concerns and delivers a roadmap for Web services adoption - thus leading to a more agile enterprise.

More Stories By Ajit Sagar

Ajit Sagar is Associate VP, Digital Transformation Practice at Infosys Limited. A seasoned IT executive with 20+ years experience across various facts of the industry including consulting, business development, architecture and design he is architecture consulting and delivery lead for Infosys's Digital Transformation practice. He was also the Founding Editor of XML Journal and Chief Editor of Java Developer's Journal.

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Most Recent Comments
XML Journal News Desk 08/02/05 10:05:03 PM EDT

Phasing in SOA and Web Services. Over the last couple of years, the industry has rallied around SOA and its main realization platform - Web services. While many of the clients I meet are still wary about the adoption of new technology, integration dilemmas posed by the variety of software and hardware platforms has led them to buy into the promise of improving on business agility through SOA. The ubiquitous nature of Web services is something that even business owners appreciate, as they have been burned before by the disparity in the technologies that their applications have been based on.

SOA Web Services Journal 08/02/05 04:35:06 PM EDT

Phasing in SOA and Web Services. Over the last couple of years, the industry has rallied around SOA and its main realization platform - Web services. While many of the clients I meet are still wary about the adoption of new technology, integration dilemmas posed by the variety of software and hardware platforms has led them to buy into the promise of improving on business agility through SOA. The ubiquitous nature of Web services is something that even business owners appreciate, as they have been burned before by the disparity in the technologies that their applications have been based on.

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