Welcome!

SOA & WOA Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Kira Makagon, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: SOA & WOA, Java, XML, iPhone

SOA & WOA: Article

Rethink SOA - A Recipe for Business Transformation

Imagine you had the ability to create an entirely new business offering, unlike anything available from your competition

One sure fire way to keep budget and buzz away from your projects is for you and your department to be associated with incremental improvement. Projects can generally be classified into two categories. The first is "business transformation," which includes projects that generate excitement.  The second category is for projects that fund incremental improvement to what is frequently considered the "cost center," often with a strong ROI but seriously lacking when it comes to excitement... And without excitement comes underfunded and understaffed projects likely to underachieve the goals they set out to accomplish.

So where does SOA belong? Is it one of the most powerful weapons in the business transformation arsenal or is it merely a tool for the cost center to provide incremental improvement? If we look at the traditional benefits of SOA, such as re-use of services, agility, scalability, and visibility, then SOA brings incremental improvement to the infrastructure. Although this incremental improvement can provide impressive returns that easily justify the investment, they are still more incremental than transformative to the business.

Imagine you had the ability to create an entirely new business offering, unlike anything available from your competition in just a few months.

How would you accomplish this? From a packaged application? Highly unlikely since it's available worldwide, meaning there is no barrier to entry for your competitors.  Build a one-of-a-kind application from scratch?  After a year or more of development, your first-to-market advantage is lost.

How can business transformation take place in such a short time frame?  Of the many aspects of a comprehensive SOA platform, such as service creation, service orchestration, governance, integration and business rules, there is one aspect of SOA that provides the key enabler to rapid business transformation. It's not new to SOA but seriously underappreciated for its potential.  It is the "composite application" that provides the ability to rapidly create an entirely new application, composed of a mix of existing and new re-usable services, unlike any other application in the world in short order. Take a moment to think of other technologies providing the ability to rapidly deliver an entirely new business offering.  If you came up with anything else... it's a pretty short list.

What is so special about the composite application? Take a look at the following scenario:

In a few months' time:

  • Create a first-to-market application that combines a voice recognition service with a social media API
  • Use a cloud service to translate a Facebook event stream into a speaking voice inside a vehicle
  • Post an audio update to a Facebook profile to update the Facebook status of the driver of the car

You have just tapped into a new business channel where over 700 billion minutes per month are spent.  Equally important was the fact that 75% of this project was already completed before the project even started.

This may sound far-fetched but it is in production today. New business offerings derived directly by SOA are numerous at OnStar where they treat SOA as a key enabler for new business initiatives instead of as merely a tool to provide incremental improvement.

OnStar is one of a growing number of leading edge companies rethinking SOA. These companies have the necessary ingredients of innovation combined with an understanding that they can "Rethink SOA" from "incrementalism" into the driving force of their business transformation strategy. Although the number of companies is small today, it's easy to tell when a company has moved beyond SOA incrementalism. When speaking about their Oracle SOA Suite implementation, OnStar's Chief Architect Doug Mutart speaks less about the traditional SOA benefits of efficiency, re-use, etc. and instead refers to bringing entirely new projects to life. For example, when OnStar needed new channels through mobile devices such as the iPhone and other smartphones, a key enabler was SOA. Mutart states:

"The flexibility of SOA has enabled us to bring these projects to life."

-Doug Mutart, Chief Architect, OnStar

To deliver the mobile composite application before the launch of the Chevrolet Volt, OnStar leveraged existing services to back-end customer data and applications, transforming OnStar into a leading edge provider through new distribution channels enabled by SOA.

OnStar iPhone App Enabled by SOA
Additional examples include a European government launching entirely new composite applications such as eBirth to immediately update all health care practitioners who have a need-to-know about the birth of a baby, and "police-on-web" that lets citizens report crimes such as theft, graffiti and shoplifting.

Why is this new mindset to SOA so important? Because projects associated with business transformation get the executive sponsorship, budget, and access to key resources needed to ensure success. Projects associated with incremental improvement however are hit-and-miss...sometimes you get what you need and other times you are in the mode of "doing more with less" which translates to doing more work with less staff, less budget, and less likelihood of success.

How does one begin the process of rethinking SOA to take advantage of the opportunity of SOA, and specifically service-based composite applications within SOA, provides? To rethink SOA from incrementalism into business transformation through SOA, here is a recipe:

Rethink SOA - A Recipe for Business Transformation

  1. Start Before you Start: Thanks to the concept of Shared Services, in which services are built with the intention of re-use for future applications, each new project has the ability to incorporate existing services from previous projects.  Over time, new projects start with 30 to 75 percent of the project already completed before the project has even started.
  2. Know your "Sustainable Competitive Advantages": Although you can't look into the future to know what composite applications you will want, you can look within your organization to determine what foundational services align with your Sustainable Competitive Advantages.  These are the subset of competitive advantages your company has that cannot easily be matched by your competition.
  3. Develop Your "Strategic Service Portfolio": Building a foundation doesn't happen overnight.  This is also true for the service foundation of what will become the crown jewel of your company, a service portfolio that lets you consistently assemble new composite applications to market faster than your competition.  Based on your Sustainable Competitive Advantage, develop a vision for your "Strategic Service Portfolio" to grow your corporate crown jewel over time.
  4. Don't Build Every Service for Re-use: On average, it costs 50 percent extra to make a service re-usable, so don't waste time and money making every service re-usable. Now that you have a vision for your Strategic Service Portfolio, focus your re-use efforts only on those services that build the foundation for future composite applications. Fortunately, the break-even point has been shown to come from a single re-use of a service for your next composite application.
  5. Assemble and Configure: Rather than custom coding new applications, think assemble and configure. Assemble existing services and instead of adding custom code for the new services of the composite application, use a graphical "composite editor."   Visual development allows everyone on the collaborative team to more rapidly understanding the project and eases downstream maintenance.
  6. Immunize Against the "Antibodies": Although new and innovative projects will generative the excitement and buzz required to properly fund the project, you will undoubtedly encounter others in your organization resistant to change known as the antibodies.  Even if you do your homework and can justify your project, the antibodies will attempt to slow your progress. Find executive sponsorship, which for SOA often exists in the Annual Report with statements about the company focused on increasing customer satisfaction, leveraging social media, Enterprise 2.0 collaboration with customers, customer self-service and more.  SOA provides the ideal foundation to realize these goals and measure their success.
  7. Get Connected: Chances are, your vendor is providing you and your company a win-win opportunity for free publicity and a chance to broaden your network...Good for your career and for your company.  Oracle for example offers customer success podcasts, webcasts, case studies, videos, press releases and more. Selfishly take advantage of these to broaden your network with like-minded professionals to share lessons learned as you embark on your path to rethinking SOA to a higher level.

Oracle SOA Suite 11g is an integrated, best-of-breed suite that helps customers rapidly design and assemble, deploy and manage, highly agile and adaptable business applications.

For more Oracle SOA Suite customer innovation case studies, follow Oracle SOA Suite on Twitter and Facebook

More Stories By Bruce Tierney

Bruce Tierney is the Director of Product Marketing for the Oracle SOA Suite. He is the author of “Eight Secrets of SOA Success for Business Integration” and has delivered SOA and business integration presentations globally to help companies optimize and simplify business integration.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immediate and actionable interpretation of events as they happen. Another aspect concerns how to deliver ...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Wearable devices have come of age. The primary applications of wearables so far have been "the Quantified Self" or the tracking of one's fitness and health status. We propose the evolution of wearables into social and emotional communication devices. Our BE(tm) sensor uses light to visualize the skin conductance response. Our sensors are very inexpensive and can be massively distributed to audiences or groups of any size, in order to gauge reactions to performances, video, or any kind of presentation. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Jocelyn Scheirer, CEO & Founder of Bionolux, will discuss ho...
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...