Service-oriented architecture. SOA. It's all the buzz! But what is it exactly and how can it help your company? How does WebSphere® fit into an SOA solution? And where can you learn more? This page is a starting point for you to learn more about SOA and WebSphere and how you can use them in an SOA solution.
It seems, lately, that SOA is everywhere. But what exactly does it mean and why does it matter to your business? As the name implies, SOA is an architecture--a business-centric IT architecture. The building blocks of SOA are services, which represent discreet, repeatable, reusable business tasks. You can combine and re-combine these tasks in many ways to build applications that integrate function from many sources to support different business needs.
SOA can help your business:
Based on extensive field experience, IBM has defined five entry points for businesses getting started with SOA. The entry points are divided into two categories: business-centric and IT-centric, and there are WebSphere products to help you with each entry point.
The business-centric entry points are:
SOA helps you improve productivity by enabling you to collect and consolidate information into views that deliver information and facilitate interaction in the context of a business process.
The following WebSphere products support the SOA People entry point:
With SOA you can quickly deploy innovative business models with re-usable processes, which means you can react fast to changing business needs.
The following WebSphere products support the SOA Process entry point:
By delivering information as a service, SOA helps you improve business insight and reduce risk with trusted information services delivered in-line and in-context.
The following WebSphere products support the SOA Information entry point:
The IT-centric entry points are:
When we talk about SOA connectivity, we're talking about the underlying connectivity that supports business-centric SOA. Connectivity provides the ability to integrate service providers and consumers, and allows for the re-use of services across multiple channels. WebSphere allows you to connect everything inside and outside your company, which enables your SOA to deliver reliability and security with high performance and availability that spans newly developed Web services and complex heterogeneous environments.
The following WebSphere products support the SOA Connectivity entry point:
With SOA, you can cut costs, reduce cycle times, and expand access to core applications through re-use of services in various business applications. Use portfolio management to consider which assets you need to run your company. Identify high-value existing IT assets and service-enable them for re-use. Satisfy remaining business needs by creating new services. Finally, create a registry or repository to provide centralized access to and control of these reusable services.
Some of the WebSphere products that support the SOA Re-use entry point are:
There is no "right" place to start with SOA. Where you start depends on your specific business needs. You can use any one, or any combination of, these entry points to approach SOA incrementally. The IBM SOA Self-Assessment can help you determine which entry points makes sense for you.
Now that you understand the various SOA entry points you might choose, let's talk about how to start with your own SOA project. IBM has defined four phases in the lifecycle of an SOA project. These phases make up the SOA Foundation, which is a set of best practices, software, and patterns for implementing SOA in your business. WebSphere products can help you with each phase of implementing an SOA project from model to deploy. The phases of an SOA project are:
During the model phase, you'll collect and assess your business needs and define your business processes. You'll then design the services to support these processes. During this phase, you can use WebSphere Business Modeler to build a model of your business and IT processes and goals. The model help you see whether the resulting application meets your company's needs and can provide you with a benchmark for measuring business performance.
During the assemble phase, you create services out of existing assets, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and financial systems, CICS® applications and other solutions that run your business. If the necessary function to support a business process doesn't exist, you can create and test a new service to deliver it. Once you have the required services, you can combine them to create a business process. You can use the following WebSphere products to help you with the assemble phase of an SOA project:
During the deploy phase, you configure your run-time environment to meet the service levels required by your business processes. Then you can deploy it into a scalable, secure services environment. The services environment is optimized to run critical business processes while having the flexibility to make dynamic updates in response to changing business requirements. This service-oriented approach reduces the cost and complexity associated with maintaining numerous point-to-point integrations. WebSphere provides many products to help you with the deploy phase:
During the manage phase, you're concerned with establishing and maintaining service availability and response times, as well as managing underlying services. By monitoring key performance indicators in real time, you can get the information you need to help you prevent, isolate, diagnose and fix problems. Once you understand the performance of your business processes, you can provide feedback to improve the business-process model as needed. During th management phase, you also manage version control of the services that make up your business processes.
One of the key products you can use to continuously monitor and improve your business processes is WebSphere Business Monitor.