Buyer Beware

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 2006-07-13 Print this article Print

Companies are integrating applications and processes across their enterprises to better interact with customers, suppliers and partners—and fuel what can be significant cost savings.

Buyer Beware

Some technology executives, however, warn that SOA and other integration methods can be troublesome if a business doesn't fully grasp the concepts.

A few years ago, technology managers with TrueCredit, which markets online credit reports, built an SOA to help its developers create new products, including a tool for its Web sites to help consumers determine their credit risk, according to chief information officer Scott Metzger.

TrueCredit went with BEA's WebLogic Java server system to act as the foundation for integrating various disparate systems. Metzger says BEA's products sometimes stumbled out of the box—at times, he says, software was slow and couldn't be customized easily—but these shortcomings were quickly repaired by the BEA support team. (A company spokeswoman says BEA's WebLogic products have consistently topped its competitors in performance evaluations.)

A bigger issue, in Metzger's mind, is that managers need to identify how a service-oriented architecture can improve their business processes, instead of investing based solely on vaguely defined benefits.

"It's one of those doomed-to-failure situations if there isn't the dedication in the business to decide what the objectives are," Metzger says. He recommends that clear goals should be specified up front, like cutting time-to-market for products or reducing application development costs.

In the end, Metzger and his team cut development times for new applications in half, to about 90 days, Metzger says. He still feels, however, that vendors oversell SOA as the "ultimate Swiss Army knife" for the enterprise.

Do your due diligence, he says: "If you as a leader or manager allow a vendor sales group to drive how you're going to ultimately manage your business, that's going to be fraught with peril."

Associate Editor

Brian joined Baseline in March 2006. In addition to previous stints at Inter@ctive Week and The Net Economy, he's written for The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., as well as The Sunday Tribune in Dublin, Ireland. Brian has a B.A. from Bucknell University and a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.


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