We find that most of the companies at this level are in the financial services industry. This really isn't too surprising because
- They are frequently at the leading edge of adopting new technology to gain efficiencies and support straight-through-processing initiatives,
- Their industry has a lot of mergers and acquisitions.
When I speak with customers in the banking industry about SOA and ESBs (Enterprise Services Buses) they don't take too long to explain that they have been thinking about these topics for some time. In the vase of ESBs, they may even have some in production based on modern SOA principles. I'll talk more about the ESB concept in future entries.
I first wrote about these steps to using SOA in an article in ComputerWorld at the end of last year. Our conclusions then have continued to be borne out as we've spoken with customers this year. We encourage you to start pragmatically by choosing one or two projects that will help you understand how SOA and web services fit in your organization. This means getting a better view of what resources you can bring to bear and what the ROI is for your particular IT infrastructure. This is obvious, but no two companies have the same IT plumbing. So all this great and general advice about SOA and web services needs to be localized for your particular configuration.
Once you have the experience of a few web services "under your belt," you can move on to connecting them together via BPEL. The WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation can help you do this. During all this you should be thinking about what this would mean to your enterprise as a whole so that by the time you make that type of commitment you have practical experience and the resources and products to help you meet your business goals via SOA in your infrastructure.
Make sure you visit the SOA and Web services zone to learn more about SOA and Web services. This offers both basic and advanced technical material as well as many free downloads to get you started.