Prepare for Job Changes

By Bob Violino  |  Posted 2007-03-08 Print this article Print

Service-oriented architecture is here to stay. Job one, say the experts, is to learn from past projects so your company can wring the most value from future SOA implementations.

2) Prepare for Job Changes

Adoption of SOA requires technology organizations to understand that the role of some workers must change—and, possibly, their skills.

AMR's Finley sees three new types of workers for organizations using SOA. First is the "service creator," a combination of programmer, enterprise architect, product designer and product manager who creates services from existing applications and data sources as well as from scratch.

The "service consumer" is less of a developer and more of a business process expert, using business process modeling tools rather than programming languages to create solutions for business users.

And the "service librarian" is responsible for ensuring that solutions use existing services instead of creating new ones.

The services need to be managed like products, Finley says, with releases, product requirement lists, migrations and so on, because they have multiple customers. "For many, this will represent an evolution in their role, rather than a brand-new role," he says.

3) Develop Best Practices

Organizations that have gained traction with SOA should begin to develop best practices to help successfully deploy the architecture in other areas. Gartner's Natis says SOA is at a point in its evolution where there's lots of learning needed and many obstacles to overcome—such as lack of experience, lack of dedicated tools and, as a result, increasing complexity. All this, even as some companies begin to see benefits such as greater agility, faster times to market and faster turnaround of business requests for I.T. services.

Gartner, for example, recommends that companies establish an integration/SOA competency center.

TD Banknorth, a financial services firm in Portland, Maine, developed recommendations for implementing SOA after its initial deployment, which began in 2004. The company used webMethods' SOA platform for several projects, including a Web service to make it easier to complete customer address changes. The service, built within the webMethods Fabric suite of products, enables call-center agents or branch employees to make address changes and automatically have those changes reflected in all of the customer's accounts. Other SOA projects involve a small-business loan origination service and the company's online banking system.

The recommendations established for SOA address the software tools, people and processes involved in an implementation, and include basic Web services such as messaging, common service models, service descriptions, contracts and meta-data, says Joe Castinado, enterprise architect at TD Banknorth. "By creating these guidelines, we have the benefit of providing boundaries around what is considered a service and at what level the service can be utilized by the enterprise," Castinado says.

With these suggestions, I.T. can show others in the company what's been accomplished with SOA and how they can use the best practices to create new services.

The software industry is still working on standards for SOA, "so the established guidelines, policies and governance around SOA should be technology-independent, iterative in adoption and flexible to some degree," advises Bob Jones, vice president and head of the enterprise architecture group at TD Banknorth.

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