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Software AG Chief SOA Architect Speaks

Web Services Journal Interviews Theo Beack About the Company and its New Competency Center

Web Services Journal: How does Software AG's strategy compare, complement, and compete with SOA environments from IBM, BEA, and Microsoft?

Theo Beack: Software AG believes that implementing a Service-Oriented Architecture is about much more than merely adopting the latest technology or following the latest IT trends. SOA is about an organization increasing the reusability of their existing IT assets, thereby reducing the expense of integrating applications that are vital to improving customer service and remaining competitive.

Software AG has a multi-faceted SOA Strategy. We have created a set of technologies that address various aspects of an SOA, namely services creation, services orchestration, semantic integration, model driven integration (via BPM) and the management of services.

To complement this set of technologies we are in the process of establishing an SOA Competency Center. Based upon our experience, most of our customers require guidance in planning, designing and implementing their SOA. We have therefore drawn from our own expertise in implementing Web Services and SOAs to create a pragmatic SOA Methodology, as well as a complementary set of SOA Best Practices. We will be offering these services, in conjunction with our technology, to help customers successfully implement their SOAs.

Software AG is in a unique position right now. Having accumulated more than 30 years of experience helping organizations build mission critical applications, and having garnered a wealth of knowledge related to both the mainframe and XML data management, we now possess the mature skills and technology required to bridge the proprietary legacy systems world with the new open-standards world of Web Services.

This rare capability gives us a significant competitive advantage. By now most software technologies can create and consume Web Services, and a great many vendors offer solutions that address one aspect or another of an SOA. However, very few vendors other than Software AG have such a complete and mature set of skills and technology that can help enterprise organizations harness legacy systems and data to build scalable, flexible and secure Service-Oriented Architectures.

WSJ: When do you expect the SOA Competency Center to be completed? Where will it be located? Could you outline the scope of activities that will take place there?

Beack: We are planning to launch our SOA Competency Center, which is hosted in our Reston, VA-based North American headquarters, sometime during the Third Quarter of 2005. The Center includes a cross-functional team of experts, which is currently formalizing the process of identifying, capturing and reusing architectural and implementation best practices.

 As for the scope of activities, our SOA Competency Center will help our customers understand the value of SOA, help them shape their SOA vision, and provide them with assistance in the design, planning and finally the execution of their SOA.

The origin of this initiative is quite simple. Software AG has taken a much more collaborative approach in working with our customers. We have implemented what we call our CustomerFirst philosophy, which drives us to partner with our customers in helping them to succeed.

Through this process we found that customers more frequently have been asking for our guidance on how to approach and implement their SOA initiatives. We have been involved in a number of Web Services, XML and SOA projects during the past 2 years and with every project we gained more knowledge and expertise. We realized that most of our customers are facing a steep learning curve and that there is a certain element of risk associated with every project.

WSJ: Software AG has mentioned its record of innovation for the past decade in XML "and other standards-based technologies." What role does XML play in your thinking today? What other technologies is the company referencing?

Beack: Software AG views XML as a key enabling technology that allows organizations to solve complex integration problems. In the late 1990’s Software AG was one of the first companies to successfully deploy a commercial data management product that stores XML natively. And now this approach we helped to pioneer is becoming widely accepted in the industry.

In keeping with Software AG’s spirit of innovation, we are continuing to move ahead in our use of open standards such as XSLT, SOAP, WSDL, BPEL and OWL. In fact, we recently announced the first globally available information integration product (called Enterprise Information Integrator v2.1) to incorporate Semantic Web technology. So my expectation is that you will see us using three core sets of standards and specifications as key components of our technology strategy: XML, WS-* and the Symantic Web Standards such as OWL.

Continued on next page... 

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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sidelin72 04/28/05 02:19:17 PM EDT

Good to see so much competition between the major players. The issue of integration effects many parts of an organization; it's not just systems and processes. Those who can actually deliver real-time integration solutions will win the SOA phase we're moving into.

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