SOA Possible even without Service-enabled Apps

by Sonal Desai    Mar 17, 2009

There are many myths surrounding SOA; one of them is that you can’t do SOA without a service-enabled application says Shailender Kumar, vice president, Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle India, in an interview with Sonal Desai.

Do organizations in India have an SOA strategy? (If not, why and what can be done.)

Some companies do and there are others who may not, but are keen to understand how it can add value to their businesses. Oracle works with several organizations and even partners to provide SOA solutions. Organizations like Godfrey Phillips, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, KPIT Cummins Infosystems, SREI Sahaj e-Village, Indian Railways are some of the customers who are using our SOA-based solutions. In addition, partners also run some SOA-based Oracle Centers of Excellence (CoE) where Oracle experts from partner organizations help customers solve their IT architecture and business challenges with solutions based on Oracle’s database, middleware and enterprise applications products. The Oracle centers are run by partner organizations. TCS and HP are some partners who have CoEs based on SOA.

What are the challenges faced by organizations as they progress on their SOA journey?

One obvious challenge faced is managing services metadata. SOA based environments can include many services which exchange messages to perform tasks. Depending on the design, a single application may generate millions of messages. Managing and providing information on how services interact is a complicated task.

Another challenge is providing appropriate levels of security. Applications which consume services, particularly those external to company firewalls, are more visible to external parties than traditional monolithic proprietary applications. The flexibility and reach of SOA can compromise security.

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) provides a means of integrating disparate applications within an enterprise, improving reuse of application logic while eliminating duplication of production environments.

It is believed that not many CIOs or IT executives understand the fundamental concept of SOA and issues on how to get started? What is the scenario in India? Why is the awareness so low?

This is changing. Some years back, when SOA was new, we had to educate customers on this technology, but now, more and more Indian enterprises are becoming familiar with the business benefits of investing in SOA-based IT architecture. Companies have understood the basic SOA architecture and are now trying to understand the immediacy factor involved in putting up the required infrastructure.

There is, however, a myth associated with this technology that unless one has a service-enabled application, one can’t do SOA - which is not true. Actually, some people see web services as SOA, which is wrong because web services are just another protocol. For example, if you have an application that is service-enabled, and a whole bunch of applications that are not service-enabled, you can still connect these by deploying adapters. Once they realize that, they start to see where SOA can fit in bringing connectivity between diverse transaction engines.

SOAs help businesses respond quickly and cost-effectively to the changing market conditions. By adopting SOA, they reuse existing IT assets rather than investing in more time-consuming and costly reinvention or new implementation.

Which are the verticals that are early adopters?

Companies from banking and financial services sectors are early adopters of SOA technology. In addition, companies in healthcare, retail, manufacturing, IT/ITeS, government and telecom are also considering this technology.

What is the new pattern emerging for SOA adoption?

As you are aware, SOA helps companies better manage their business processes, enhance informed decision-making and reduce cost of doing business. Over the last few years, companies in India have started to understand this technology and tool better and some of them are even reaping benefits of having implemented it.

And now with the need to put in place compliance requirements and corporate regulations, companies are realizing that SOA can help streamline compliance initiatives.

How are CXOs viewing it?

Like I mentioned earlier, companies are realising the benefits and the positive impact they can generate by investing in SOA based solutions. CXOs are very aware of this. If we look at the current scenario, one can easily assess that all leading companies are tackling the complexity of their application and IT environments with SOA because that facilitates the development of modular business services that can be easily integrated and reused - creating a truly flexible, adaptable IT infrastructure.

Most companies that have SOA infrastructure have multiple SOA technologies and vendors. These disparate SOA infrastructures need to be integrated. Also, there are interoperability issues. How can these be addressed?

The whole purpose of SOA is to enable different applications in a heterogenous environment. Whether you realise it or not, you’ve probably relied upon SOA, perhaps when you made a purchase online at Amazon. You look at their catalogue and choose a number of items. You specify your order through one service, which communicates with an inventory service to find out if the items you’ve requested are available and the options that you want. Your order and shipping details are submitted to another service, which calculates your total, tells you when it should arrive and furnishes a tracking number that, through another service, will allow you to keep track of your order’s status and location en route to your door. And the entire process, from the initial order to its delivery, is managed by communications between the Web services - programmes talking to other programmes, all made possible by the underlying framework that SOA provides. Amazon.com is powered by Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Service-oriented architecture provides a means of integrating disparate applications within an enterprise, improving reuse of application logic while eliminating duplication of production environments.

How scalable is SOA?

The scalability of SOA can be measured from the operational efficiencies and business agility that organisations are gaining through adaptable, re-usable business processes and services built on a truly flexible service-oriented architecture foundation.

Oracle SOA products allows enterprises to build, deploy, and manage SOA with integrated, best-in-class technology that provides:

-  Comprehensive and Pre-Integrated SOA Platform. Complete set of service and process infrastructure components for building, deploying, and managing SOAs

-  Closed-Loop Governance. Comprehensive, end-to-end lifecycle governance of services

-  Extreme performance and scalability. In-memory transactions, real-time event processing, and high-volume data transfer on top of a highly-scalable application server

-  Integrated Security. Centralized policy management, enterprise-grade, end-to-end security

SOAs help businesses respond quickly and cost-effectively to the changing market conditions. By adopting SOA, they reuse existing IT assets rather than investing in more time-consuming and costly reinvention or new implementation.