Wednesday, August 25, 2010

SOA technology changes integration

"We could have lived with one interface, but we really wanted about five different screens," Anderson said. "But the cost alone made us say, 'OK, we'll need to put up with whatever they produce for the first one.'"

Before settling, VP Buildings looked for alternatives and found New York-based iWay Software Inc. and its SOA middleware. IWay's enterprise service bus technology could expose PeopleSoft functions as Web services. VP Buildings had experience with SOA technology and Web services because it manages its sales and manufacturing activities using homegrown Microsoft .NET applications, Anderson explained. The team members decided to use iWay's technology for the project -- and discovered that the SOA technology offered more benefits than they had initially realized.
Solving old problems with new technology
The VP Buildings situation is not unusual, according to Steve Garone, an independent industry analyst who is currently establishing his own firm. Companies are increasingly turning to SOA technologies to solve classic application integration problems. A broad variety of tools and standards are emerging in the SOA market, Garone said, but vendors generally fall into three categories:
  • Platform vendors, which are building SOA functions into broad platforms.
  • Tools vendors, which focus specifically on SOA, Web services and enterprise service bus technology.
  • Infrastructure vendors, which are building SOA and Web services functions into their technology suites.
Like many IT projects, the vendor choice depends on a company's specific requirements, goals and existing technology environment, Garone said. Solving a particular business or integration problem with Web services can be a good way for companies to jump-start the process of moving toward SOA technology. Getting started with SOA technology sooner rather than later may accelerate competitive advantages enabled by the architectural approach, he added. But companies need to think strategically.
"If you're going to migrate and grow the SOA presence in the organization up from that initial project, you need to take a global view of the breadth and variety of resources throughout your organization that are going to have to be integrated down the line," Garone said.
VP Buildings builds on its SOA
VP Buildings implemented iWay's SOA middleware, which exposes PeopleSoft functions as Web services to its .NET architecture. The team built the five new interfaces in a Microsoft Windows form business application, which uses the .NET architecture and iWay SOA middleware to write data to the PeopleSoft application. The entire process happens in near real time, with the customized interfaces designed exactly as VP Buildings wanted. They rolled out the new system in May.
"Now we have an interactive capability to query or supply data to PeopleSoft," Anderson said. "We'll do other things that we would have avoided in the past because they would have required a custom interface."

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