Service Oriented Architecture Retains Relevance for Today’s Organizations
As long ago as 2005, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) was being discussed as the best infrastructure – so why is it that only lately is this term being bandied about in the broader business community? This evolution of distributed computing essentially allows the service interface to be independent of the implementation – a collection of many different services within a larger network that communicate with each other to exchange data and even to coordinate additional services.
While SOA can’t solve every business problem, as some overzealous salespeople would have you believe, it can work throughout the enterprise to expose features that are available at a high enough level to allow integration with other services. SOA can be utilized to solve challenging integration problems between large systems – specifically in instances when you need to define the responsibilities between dissimilar divisions of the organization.
What is SOA, Really?
SOA is architected upon the concept of service – as a way to introduce other ideas to each other and deliver benefits within the enterprise. While there are plenty of buzzwords around Service Oriented Architecture, things like “enterprise agility” are really meaningless unless you fully define what that means within your organization. Agility may mean the ability to match up current functions with new user requirements, or the ability to deploy new solutions under tight deadlines. Do you need to deliver scalable solutions that meet your users where they are based on demand levels? Within the broad concept of SOA, you can meet these requirements for agility in very different ways: through model-driven development, service composition, and service virtualization. While each of these concepts can be baked into your SOA, the supporting infrastructure required is quite different – and can be expensive.
Technologists have adopted the concept of ‘service’ and applied it to an architecture – a service is simply a tool that will do a specific thing that benefits people or organizations (the consumers of the service). A software service does just that: it contracts with one provider to provide value to another. These services can be provided over the Internet or in an intranet and can have either human or computer (software) interfaces.
No More Info Silos
Utilizing a widespread Service Oriented Architecture, or web services as some organizations refer to them as, you can largely avoid information silos – or small pieces of services that cannot fully communicate with each other. Speaking in layman’s terms, this means that you can ultimately save on integrations because all of your services can speak to each other, even if they were not originally planned that way.
Expose Your Data
Exposing the functionality of software as services can be easier to accomplish externally if you’re using SOA – as you can maintain the security of the core data while still creating a usable outlet to the outside world. A great example would be when an eCommerce vendor allows users to see exactly how many pieces of material or products are currently in stock in a real-time environment – a move that can greatly increase consumer satisfaction and reduce calls to your customer service department.
Connect Your Dinosaurs
Larger organizations who have been in business for many years often have large, unwieldy programs that are used to run integral business processes. Changing these programs would be a massive undertaking, but you still need to connect in to the programs. Utilizing a SOA allows you the flexibility to meet the challenges of a new business environment while still keeping your legacy software intact – effectively making your organization more “agile”. We can provide SOA architecture built into our .NET solution for your company.
Using composite applications, SOA can not only build and expose services but also reuse the same services to solve different business problems – so you’re not required to start from scratch each time you need a modification or upgrade which can save your business time and money.
If you were looking for one key reason to utilize Service Oriented Architecture, it may be that SOA is an orderly way to keep track of the arrangement of different systems that serve the needs of the business. The move towards cloud computing and the renewed interest in APIs add relevance to the SOA conversation by offering a solution to rapidly solve business problems as they occur.