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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SOA Made Fast and Easy

Of the 11,000 largest enterprises worldwide, 95% are engaged in "some
type of effort to implement SOA," according to Susan Eustis, president
of WinterGreen Research: "Most of these projects have started out as
compliance efforts and have been extended to include a dashboard that
is used to manage the business. SOA starts out as a small trial
initiative before it is expanded." With so much work going on, the hype
around SOA has eroded. In its place are more than a few startling truths:
When it comes to SOA, the network is everything. Not every project is
SOA friendly. An often shockingly expensive initial SOA project will
pay for itself repeatedly over time, as other projects reuse the
stockpile of services -- provided you've made that reuse easy. Perhaps
the biggest school-of-hard-knocks lesson is when not to use a
services-approach. "SOA is not a means to an end. You need to use it
in the context of solving a business problem," says Steven Weiskircher,
vice president of IT for audio-electronics merchant Crutchfield, in
Charlottesville, Va. Crutchfield began an SOA pilot about two years
ago, when it upgraded its mission-critical catalog/call center, e-commerce
and retail order-taking applications, which are 90% custom code... When
the benefits of reusability are clear-cut, network executives are left
in a pickle. How can they make sure those bloated services fly across
the network, particularly as they scale horizontally and vertically?
Enter the XML appliance, which offloads processing of XML documents from
the server to a network device. Web-services standards specify use of
XML document headers that provide routing information, just as IP headers
do. Such functions are available in Cast Iron Systems' Application
Integration suite, Forum Systems' Vantage, Intel's XSLT Accelerator
(a software XML accelerator) and IBM's WebSphere DataPower, as well as
in Cisco's Application Oriented Networking (AON) line, via technology
the company gained in February, when it acquired Reactivity. When a Web
services-based SOA is coupled with an XML appliance, routing moves up
the stack. The packet becomes the message. The message is part of the
workflow that executes the business logic. Most agree and comply with
basic, well-proven Web-services standards [for SOA]. These include
WS-Security, SOAP and Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration.
In addition, the industry has several alphabets' worth of acronyms in
the works as standards or accepted widely. These include Java API for
XML-based Web Services, Business Process Execution Language, WS-Reliable
Messaging, WS-Addressing, SOAP with Attachments, Message Transmission
Optimization Mechanism and WS-Policy. More Information

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