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Microservices Expo: Article

Optimizing the Benefits of EDM and SOA by Coordinating Strategies

Introducing the C-SODA Framework & CMM

Why SOA Needs MDM
While SOA enables integration and data exchange through services, this is only marginally useful without a common vocabulary of data content/structure. MDM defines how an enterprise establishes and maintains such a vocabulary, so to fully adopt/implement a SOA program an organization must first address MDM.

Before creating service-oriented applications, align master data and metadata for SOA designs. Without a focus on MDM, it becomes impossible to communicate information about transactions because there's no common understanding of the basic business objects to which the services refer. Services don't know where to access "gold standard" information, which has to be the same (structure/content) between producers and consumers of services.

As applications interact with data through multiple levels of services, impacts of even small data structure changes may be significant. Hence, coordinated EDM with SOA should first be instituted as coordinated data-SOA governance with MDM processes. The technical intersection of MDM and SOA occurs in the EIA. MDM is a key component of the EIA, providing semantic integration of services for master data. For services to provide consistent information to consumers across multiple data providers, it's imperative that data inconsistencies/redundancies are addressed.

C-SODA Framework & CMM Overview
Both the framework and CMM introduced here are based on a Coordinated Service-Oriented Data Architecture (C-SODA). As implied, the C-SODA is built on data architecture; in this case, the data architecture aspects that support a service-oriented environment.

The C-SODA complements full-fledged EDM/SOA frameworks and maturity models by specifically identifying dependencies and synergies as well as evaluation criteria and maturity phases of these coordinated strategies. The C-SODA is used to evaluate and drive an organization's strategic readiness for coordination along the framework's dimensions in both EDM and SOA domains.

To be successful, EDM and SOA programs require careful planning and execution along several interdependent dimensions. Further, when these programs are to be executed in parallel, coordination between EDM and SOA concerns is required to promote success.

We utilize a proven framework to evaluate seven critical dimensions (see Figure 1) that determine the strategic readiness of an EDM/SOA or C-SODA program. Key questions to ask about each dimension area are:

  • Strategy: Are the high-level business strategies clearly described? How do they impact decisions about data and services?
  • Process: Are core business and IT processes effective, efficient, and supportive in managing strategic data/services?
  • Metrics: Is the right mix of measures being used for key performance indicators?
  • Data: Is the right data/metadata available to support core processes/services?
  • Services/Applications: Do the software and systems enhance core processes and enable reusable services/data?
  • Architecture: Is the correct infrastructure and enterprise architecture in place to support necessary data and services?
  • People: Is the organizational capital applied to core processes sufficient?

These dimensions provide the framework for which coordinated EDM/SOA strategies can be evaluated and/or a roadmap of initiatives can be formulated to improve organizational capabilities and maturity. Determination of an organization's strategic readiness for combined EDM/SOA capabilities along each dimension will help gauge overall maturity. This includes some standalone EDM and SOA capabilities, but further focuses on the synergistic nature of these strategies and their dependencies and coordination points.

When considering the C-SODA framework, use the following guidelines:

  1. Not all dimensions carry the same priority for coordinated EDM/SOA strategies. To promote maturity along necessary coordination/integration points of the strategies, process, data, services/applications, and architecture are considered primary dimensions; strategy, metrics, and people are considered secondary dimensions.
  2. Primary dimensions directly impact decisions and approaches for coordinating strategies, while secondary dimensions are used for context and in support of coordinating primary dimensions.
  3. Primary dimensions are addressed in greater detail and emphasis for evaluation and/or formulating a roadmap of initiatives to achieve greater maturity.
  4. Primary/secondary designations for dimensions (and components) may be adjusted for an organization's needs

For example, the strategy dimension, meaning "business strategy," generally only has indirect secondary impacts on services/data. By addressing process (e.g., data-SOA governance, MDM, metadata management, services-data stewardship), data (e.g. master data, metadata, reference data), services/applications (e.g., SOA services portfolio, related metadata, service initiatives' designs/tools), and architecture (e.g., SOA and data infrastructure/tools) in detail during evaluation or roadmap development, we have a sufficiently complete picture of how to establish/evolve the organization's coordinated EDM/SOA capabilities.

Utilizing the C-SODA Framework
Fine-tuning the framework for your organization, initially and as your EDM and SOA strategies mature, involves:

  1. Determining primary/secondary dimensions and dimensional components for consideration (see Figure 2). This will be your organization's/program's C-SODA.
  2. Applying C-SODA to evaluate current state of coordinated EDM/SOA strategies. It must be:
    a. Detailed enough to define granularity of capabilities and potential initiatives for improved maturity
    b. Able to rate each dimension/component for current state capabilities relative to desired current state (not future state, but how well EDM/SOA processes, architecture, and data meet current needs)
  3. Inventorying initiatives either currently underway or that will begin shortly for which ratings will change in the current state
  4. Determining the future vision of the enterprise based on the C-SODA used to evaluate the current state:
    a. For short (six months), intermediate (year), or long-term (18 months+) goals as needed
    b. (Optionally) granulize into intermediate steps/goals
  5. Determining gaps between C-SODA's current state (plus known initiatives) and C-SODA's future vision. Gaps can be further granulized into intermediate steps/goals
  6. Developing initiative definitions for filling gaps
  7. Prioritizing/scheduling gap-filling initiatives to achieve desired C-SODA capabilities

Most C-SODA dimensions have business and IT components (see Figure 2). There will potentially be both (and combined) initiatives executed in a coordinated fashion to drive improved capabilities. In developing a specific C-SODA for your organization, you may adjust/emphasize key components for your business or initiatives.

More Stories By Keith R. Worfolk

Keith R. Worfolk is a senior architect with Hitachi Consulting. He has more than 21 years of senior IT management and executive-level success in strategic enterprise architecture, software development, and large-scale systems integration. He has strong international and Big 5 project experience. Keith earned an MBA from Duke University.

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