Microservices Expo Authors: Automic Blog, Don MacVittie, XebiaLabs Blog, Elizabeth White, Dalibor Siroky

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

The Keys to Successful SOAs

Aligning business and technology to achieve enterprise goals

Today most of the conversations surrounding service-oriented architectures (SOAs) focus on flexibility and breaking down applications into services: modular, reusable, componentized, with increased availability to the services as well as increased management of them. However, with these conversations comes the risk of getting sucked into a technology-centric vacuum in which consideration for the real business problems that customers need to solve might be neglected.

Undoubtedly there is a huge demand for the development and implementation of SOAs. Gartner predicts that by 2008 more than 60 percent of organizations will use SOA as a "guiding principal" when creating essential applications and processes. With this in mind, and as the spotlight on SOA grows ever brighter throughout the industry, companies in all sectors are posing the question, "What are the key things we need for successful SOAs?"

Before embarking on building an SOA, business and IT executives need to sit down and determine what business problems need to be solved. These are clearly going to vary by industry. For example, Telco and wireless service providers worry about customer turnover. Pharmaceuticals stay up at night trying to get new, life-saving drugs to market faster. Hospitals want to ensure that up-to-date patient records are available to doctors when needed during emergencies.

Solving real business problems using the flexibility afforded by an SOA is critical to helping customers transform to on-demand businesses that can quickly respond to rapidly changing market environments. An SOA can help companies do this by providing an industry-standard framework that is interchangeable, adaptive, and flexible, but most important, is closely linked to the business goals.

Business leaders who are not aware of the benefits an SOA can provide will likely lose a competitive edge in the marketplace as more nimble competitors take advantage of this new enabling technology. The business value that SOAs provide is so great that organizations are set to spend billions of dollars annually in just a couple of years on software and services to achieve these benefits.

Working through the steps of identifying a specific business problem, determining an approach to solve it, realizing ROI, and then moving on to the next business problem is a method that customers understand and prefer when purchasing technology and services. This approach is forcing the strategy to shift away from the practice of customers simply purchasing middleware, a database, management tools, or even general services from a single vendor, to customers demanding solutions based on IT components with the right combination of technology and services to solve specific business problems. Vendors that can't adapt to this new culture will have problems. They must improve themselves to sell large quantities of components and assets that fit into a defined ecosystem - based on industry standards - and scale these components to address additional business problems.

Customers need to approach building an SOA based on the needs of the business. A company, or more specifically an IT department, can't guess what new technology (such as Web services) will add the greatest value, so a detailed identification and prioritization of the services a business needs to develop or expose in order to support improved business processes must be developed. Once a business has determined its priorities and those priorities are understood and shared by the company's business and IT leaders, the next step is to agree upon a systematic approach that will help them build a roadmap for implementing an SOA. In order to migrate to an SOA that will generate the greatest results in the most efficient manner, there are certain questions that must be addressed. In a recent paper, Ali Arsanjani, PhD and IBM's chief architect for IBM's SOA and Web Services Center of Excellence, outlined the following points for best practices in migrating to SOA.

  • Adoption and maturity models. Where is your company at in the relative scale of maturity in the adoption of SOA and Web services? Every different level of adoption has unique needs.
  • Assessments. Have pilots been conducted? Have you dabbled into Web services? How good is the resulting architecture? Should you keep going in the same direction? Will this scale to an enterprise SOA? Have you considered everything you need to consider?
  • Strategy and planning activities. How do you plan to migrate to an SOA? What are the steps, tools, methods, technologies, standards, and training needed? What is the roadmap and vision, and how do you get there? What's the plan?
  • Governance. Should existing API or capability become a service? If not, which ones are eligible? Every service should be created with the intent to bring value to the business in some way. How is this process managed without obstructing business goals?
  • Implementation of best practices. What are some tried and tested ways of implementing security, ensuring performance, complying with standards for interoperability, and designing for change?
Once these questions have been addressed, the first phase of the SOA roadmap should be materializing. However, this is also the time when the architecture itself will need to be mapped out and a template for the architecture will need to be created, and design and architecture decisions will need to be determined for each of the following seven layers.

Layer 1: Operational systems layer. This consists of existing custom-built applications, otherwise called legacy systems, including existing CRM and ERP packaged applications, and older object-oriented system implementations, as well as business intelligence applications. The composite layered architecture of an SOA can reuse existing systems and integrate them using service-oriented integration techniques.

Layer 2: Enterprise components layer. This is the layer of enterprise components that is responsible for realizing functionality and maintaining the quality of service of the exposed services. These special components are a managed, governed set of enterprise assets that are funded at the organization or the business unit level. As enterprise-scale assets, they are responsible for ensuring conformance to SLAs through the application of architectural best practices. This layer typically uses container-based technologies such as application servers to implement the components, workload management, high-availability, and load balancing.

Layer 3: Services layer. The services the business chooses to fund and expose reside in this layer. They can be discovered or they can be statically bound and then invoked, or possibly, choreographed into a composite service. This service exposure layer also provides for the mechanism to take enterprise scale components, business unit specific components, and in some cases, project-specific components, and externalizes a subset of their interfaces in the form of service descriptions. Thus, the enterprise components provide service realization at runtime using the functionality provided by their interfaces. The interfaces get exported out as service descriptions in this layer, where they are exposed for use. They can exist in isolation or as a composite service.

Level 4: Business process composition or choreography layer. Compositions and choreographies of services exposed in Layer 3 are defined in this layer. Services are bundled into a flow through orchestration or choreography, and thus act together as a single application. These applications support specific use cases and business processes. Here, visual flow composition tools can be used for the design of application flow.

Layer 5: Access or presentation layer. Although this layer is usually out of scope for discussions around an SOA, it is gradually becoming more relevant. I depict it here because there is an increasing convergence of standards, such as Web services, for Remote Portlets Version 2.0 and other technologies, that seek to use Web services at the application interface or presentation level. You can think of it as a future layer that you need to take into account for future solutions. It is also important to note that SOA decouples the user interface from the components, and that you ultimately need to provide a complete solution from an access channel to a service or composition of services.

Level 6: Integration (ESB). This layer enables the integration of services through the introduction of a reliable set of capabilities, such as intelligent routing, protocol mediation, and other transformation mechanisms, and is often described as the ESB. Web Services Description Language (WSDL) specifies a binding, which implies a location where the service is provided. On the other hand, an ESB provides a location-independent mechanism for integration.

More Stories By Michael Liebow

Michael Liebow is a seasoned leader who brings more than 25 years of sales, marketing and management experience to Dexterra. Most recently, he served as a vice president in IBM Global Business Services, a $20 billion division, where he was responsible for creating a new portfolio of composite business solutions. In addition to his career at IBM, Michael has held a variety of senior management positions across a diverse range of industries, including high-technology, consumer package goods, communications, media and entertainment. With a strong entrepreneurial focus and technical vision, Michael has a proven success record in building organizations that uniquely address the needs of global markets and industries.

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.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
The benefits of automation are well documented; it increases productivity, cuts cost and minimizes errors. It eliminates repetitive manual tasks, freeing us up to be more innovative. By that logic, surely, we should automate everything possible, right? So, is attempting to automate everything a sensible - even feasible - goal? In a word: no. Consider this your short guide as to what to automate and what not to automate.
We just came off of a review of a product that handles both containers and virtual machines in the same interface. Under the covers, implementation of containers defaults to LXC, though recently Docker support was added. When reading online, or searching for information, increasingly we see “Container Management” products listed as competitors to Docker, when in reality things like Rocket, LXC/LXD, and Virtualization are Dockers competitors. After doing some looking around, we have decided tha...
It’s “time to move on from DevOps and continuous delivery.” This was the provocative title of a recent article in ZDNet, in which Kelsey Hightower, staff developer advocate at Google Cloud Platform, suggested that “software shops should have put these concepts into action years ago.” Reading articles like this or listening to talks at most DevOps conferences might make you think that we’re entering a post-DevOps world. But vast numbers of organizations still struggle to start and drive transfo...
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
The nature of test environments is inherently temporary—you set up an environment, run through an automated test suite, and then tear down the environment. If you can reduce the cycle time for this process down to hours or minutes, then you may be able to cut your test environment budgets considerably. The impact of cloud adoption on test environments is a valuable advancement in both cost savings and agility. The on-demand model takes advantage of public cloud APIs requiring only payment for t...
Many enterprise and government IT organizations are realizing the benefits of cloud computing by extending IT delivery and management processes across private and public cloud services. But they are often challenged with balancing the need for centralized cloud governance without stifling user-driven innovation. This strategy requires an approach that fundamentally reshapes how IT is delivered today, shifting the focus from infrastructure to services aggregation, and mixing and matching the bes...
Cavirin Systems has just announced C2, a SaaS offering designed to bring continuous security assessment and remediation to hybrid environments, containers, and data centers. Cavirin C2 is deployed within Amazon Web Services (AWS) and features a flexible licensing model for easy scalability and clear pay-as-you-go pricing. Although native to AWS, it also supports assessment and remediation of virtual or container instances within Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or on-premise. By dr...
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
"CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of DevOps. Now we have a complete set of tool sets in order to enable customers to go all the way from planning to development to testing down to release into the operations," explained Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President of Global Marketing and Strategy at CA Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Let's do a visualization exercise. Imagine it's December 31, 2018, and you're ringing in the New Year with your friends and family. You think back on everything that you accomplished in the last year: your company's revenue is through the roof thanks to the success of your product, and you were promoted to Lead Developer. 2019 is poised to be an even bigger year for your company because you have the tools and insight to scale as quickly as demand requires. You're a happy human, and it's not just...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
identify the sources of event storms and performance anomalies will require automated, real-time root-cause analysis. I think Enterprise Management Associates said it well: “The data and metrics collected at instrumentation points across the application ecosystem are essential to performance monitoring and root cause analysis. However, analytics capable of transforming data and metrics into an application-focused report or dashboards are what separates actual application monitoring from relat...
"Opsani helps the enterprise adopt containers, help them move their infrastructure into this modern world of DevOps, accelerate the delivery of new features into production, and really get them going on the container path," explained Ross Schibler, CEO of Opsani, and Peter Nickolov, CTO of Opsani, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
DevOps teams have more on their plate than ever. As infrastructure needs grow, so does the time required to ensure that everything's running smoothly. This makes automation crucial - especially in the server and network monitoring world. Server monitoring tools can save teams time by automating server management and providing real-time performance updates. As budgets reset for the New Year, there is no better time to implement a new server monitoring tool (or re-evaluate your current solution)....
While we understand Agile as a means to accelerate innovation, manage uncertainty and cope with ambiguity, many are inclined to think that it conflicts with the objectives of traditional engineering projects, such as building a highway, skyscraper or power plant. These are plan-driven and predictive projects that seek to avoid any uncertainty. This type of thinking, however, is short-sighted. Agile approaches are valuable in controlling uncertainty because they constrain the complexity that ste...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
"We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The cloud revolution in enterprises has very clearly crossed the phase of proof-of-concepts into a truly mainstream adoption. One of most popular enterprise-wide initiatives currently going on are “cloud migration” programs of some kind or another. Finding business value for these programs is not hard to fathom – they include hyperelasticity in infrastructure consumption, subscription based models, and agility derived from rapid speed of deployment of applications. These factors will continue to...