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Data - SOA's Last Mile

Maximize the business value of SOA using data services

According to Wikipedia, “The last mile (or last kilometer) is the final leg of delivering connectivity from a communications provider to a customer. Usually referred to by the telecommunications and cable television industries, it is typically seen as an expensive challenge because ‘fanning out’ wires and cables is a considerable physical undertaking.” The significant complexity, cost, and risk associated with this situation delayed many broadband rollouts until new technology became available that could realize the “last mile.”

This powerful and real-world analogy from the world of telecommunications and cable TV succinctly summarizes the current state of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) in the enterprise. It is widely agreed in concept that SOA has the potential to break down barriers between application silos and enable the reuse of business or application-level services across an enterprise. Hence, SOA has held great promise as the enabler of a new generation of more agile and cost-effective IT solutions. Unfortunately, the last mile has been the hardest for SOA, causing it to fail to live up to people’s high expectations. And that’s because, in their zeal to realize the benefits promised by early SOA hype, customers and technology providers have overlooked a crucial component for the success of any SOA initiative – they’ve ignored the data!

To illustrate this fact, let’s discuss the case of a large financial services provider that was looking to enhance customer service and enable up-sell and cross-sell opportunities across all their lines of business, such as banking, insurance, and mortgage. The company planned to achieve this goal by offering its customers the convenience of Web-based self-service banking that would offer significant competitive differentiation and increase customer satisfaction, which in turn would drive greater revenue and market share. To deliver on the company’s goals for increased agility, the IT organization built out an SOA that included a Web-based self-service portal to provide access to all customer accounts across all the lines of business in one place.

However, as the various SOA infrastructure components such as an SOA Registry, Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), etc., were being rolled out to the multiple lines of business, it was soon observed that enabling easy, secure, reliable, and timely access to customer account information across all the lines of business, in one place, posed huge data-centric challenges such as:

  • Providing a single view of all customer accounts across all financial products
  • Ensuring the timely access to up-to-date customer account information
  • Ensuring the accuracy of customer information across various customer accounts

Thus holistic, accurate, and timely data is the most strategic enterprise asset. Although the applications and business processes that consume data maybe architected with modern approaches like SOA they are only as efficient as the data that is exchanged through them.

More Stories By Ash Parikh

Ash Parikh is responsible for driving Informatica’s product strategy around real-time data integration and SOA. He has over 17 years of industry experience in driving product innovation and strategy at technology leaders such as Raining Data, Iopsis Software, BEA, Sun and PeopleSoft. Ash is a well-published industry expert in the field of SOA and distributed computing and is a regular presenter at leading industry technology events like XMLConference, OASIS Symposium, Delphi, AJAXWorld, and JavaOne. He has authored several technical articles in leading journals including DMReview, AlignJournal, XML Journal, JavaWorld, JavaPro, Web Services Journal, and ADT Magazine. He is the co-chair of the SDForum Web services SIG.

More Stories By David Lyle

David Lyle is VP of product strategy at Informatica. He helped found and grow Influence Software from 1996 to 1999 as a pioneering company in the development of packaged analytic applications. After Informatica bought Influence in 1999, David?s ideas and leadership following his role as VP of R&D for the Informatica Applications led to the development of Informatica?s innovative cross-vendor metadata lineage capabilities and other patented technologies. In 2005, David co-authored the book Integration Competency Center: An Implementation Methodology with John Schmidt. His current areas of focus include SOA, data services, user experience for enterprise software, and data governance.

More Stories By Wei Zheng

Wei Zheng is the principal product manager responsible for Informatica's products and offerings around real time data integration and data services. Before joining Informatica, Wei was the co-founder and CTO of Blazent, an enterprise software start-up focused on operational and BI reporting for enterprise IT assets.

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