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How Rich Internet Apps Serve the Web Services SOA Community

How To Benefit from Using RIA on the Front End of Your SOA

It is widely known in the IT industry that by taking a service oriented architecture (SOA) approach to engineer back-office systems enterprises experience significant flexibility and cost savings, however, SOAs do not address problems surrounding the development and deployment of new applications to front-office end users. To overcome this hurdle, rich Internet application (RIA) frameworks are designed to enable IT organizations to quickly and easily create highly maintainable composite applications that can take full advantage of their new service-oriented infrastructure.

This article will discuss what it means to combine SOA and RIA, and provide an overview of the current RIA technology landscape. Additionally, future articles in this series will provide more in-depth technical examples of the various RIA functional areas highlighted below.

So What’s an RIA and How Can it Help Your Organization?
RIA software provides the best of both worlds for creating, deploying and managing SOA-enabled applications — the rich, highly interactive user experience of desktop applications with the low-cost application deployment and maintenance of Web applications.

One of the main goals for an SOA is creating service interfaces (typically exposed with Web services) that can be mapped onto new or existing business systems. This decouples the business functionality, or service, from how it is implemented. This loose coupling allows organizations to replace redundant systems with lower-costing alternatives and allows for the quick and cost-effective creation of applications that can utilize these services no matter how they are implemented. In short, you end up with a very flexible back-office infrastructure.

RIA frameworks support a complementary level of loose coupling from the back office to the desktop. They shield application end users from losing rich user interfaces (UI), client-server like functionality and from the vagaries of various end-user deployment environments, such as desktop operating systems and the network infrastructure linking end users to the back office.

The end result is increased end user productivity and a dramatic reduction in application deployment/upgrade costs through the versatility of the Internet. The low cost deployment and wide are network (WAN) tolerant capabilities of RIAs also allow organizations to extend more applications out to remote field offices, partners, customers and suppliers.

There are three functional areas that RIA frameworks need to address: UI, data and messaging. The RIA framework must make it easy for developers to create maintainable, high performance UIs, so users can be highly productive in their interactions with the RIA. Most enterprise applications contain large amounts of data that need to be retrieved from the back-end, displayed in the UI, and when updated, posted back to the data store. By effectively separating data from the UI, applications can more easily and quickly be maintained and changed.

Many RIAs are required to operate over the public Internet, which means they need to be more tolerant to the issues inherent in WANs, including high latency, low bandwidth and dropped connectivity. Security and reliability are also important concerns for any RIA’s messaging capabilities.

The messaging capabilities of some RIA frameworks will be critical for an SOA complementary infrastructure, often referred to as Event Driven Architecture (EDA). Whereas services tend to be request-response oriented, EDAs make use of messaging paradigms. A tenet of EDA is the loose coupling of event provider and event consumer. One example of an EDA is a financial market trading application (event consumer). These applications are connected to a stock market feed that is providing thousands of events (messages) per second.

These messages come from other systems (event providers) that are broadcasting information such as market orders and quotes. When the market trader wants to place an order, the trading application uses a service to place that order. For a trading application like this one based on an RIA framework, the messaging layer will need to be highly reliable, robust and secure in order to handle the heavy demands of these types of systems.

More Stories By Scott Cranton

Scott Cranton is a Principle Solutions Engineer at 
FuseSource (http://fusesource.com). He is a veteran in the enterprise software field with more than 20 years of experience as an architect, consultant, and product manager. Scott has worked with many Fortune 100 enterprises in many industries, including Telecommunications, Financial Services, Energy, and Retail.

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