Recently, in the application integration space, have you noticed how service-oriented architecture (SOA) seems to have fallen off the radar? It’s seen less in LinkedIn profiles and resumes, and some vendors have even dropped it from their product names. So what is happening? Has our industry moved on to yet another acronym?
Not at all. Nowadays, services and events surround us; they facilitate the capture and distribution of information, and are the foundation of some of the key opportunities technology proposes today.
- Cloud and SaaS applications are attractive for enterprises not only because they can be subscribed to in minutes, but because the simple interfaces allow for smooth integration.
- Smartphones provide empowerment not only for their computing power, but because they provide a gateway to many valuable business and personal services.
- Social networks seem pervasive because these services can very easily be embedded from applications and websites. This can be seen by how easy it is for you to share this post on your social network of choice.
- Social networks are great sources of information because of the sheer quantity of data they expose easily; the accessibility to real-time data positions these networks as one of the driving forces of Big Data.
The Shifting Landscape for SOA Principles
All of these services and APIs are built on SOA principles. These services take into account some key changes that shape the way companies consume and expose information. The shifts taking place across the landscape include modifications to services, software simplicity, and business agility,
World Class Service: The audience of services used to be inside corporate firewalls. The expectations of this audience could be managed. Now companies need to expose business services across various channels, such as open APIs or mobile applications. Because of the inside-to-outside change in service and customer experience, these services must perform extremely well and consistently. Though thousands, or even millions, of users may use the service at the same time, it cannot have an impact on its performance.
Keep It Simple and Attractive: Sometimes the internal services exposed, as part of SOA, were too complex to use. Now that the audience is broader, developers outside of the company may embed the service in their own app. Companies need to switch from a “stick” approach (in which lots of constraints are enforced on developers) to a “carrot” approach (in which developers are incentivized to use services). This is seen at the technical level, with simpler protocols, shown by the shift to REST in place of SOAP.
Be Agile: SaaS vendors have very short release cycles. They announce new features weeks before delivering them. This provides progress in small increments without disturbing current services. Companies are expected to deliver their service updates in a similar manner.
Turning New SOA Principles Into Assets
The main goal of SOA is to align IT with business. Companies that shape their information systems align with SOA principles, and deliver services that can then transform them into business assets; reap benefits such as innovation and visibility; and new business opportunities will succeed.
Innovation: the ability to onboard new business functionalities from SaaS applications or partners and combine them with in-house applications. This allows companies to rapidly optimize their processes for a better customer experience, or propose differentiating net-new services.
Visibility: the process by which to capture data from new external sources of information such as sensors and social networks, and then utilize this data to improve business awareness. This awareness is key to take short-term decisions—such as replenishing stocks or proposing special discounts—to longer-term objectives, such as defining which offers best meet demand. Awareness, combined with technologies like events processing, allows companies to build context-driven architectures.
New business opportunities: By exposing their Business as a Service, these companies can find new business models in which their services are embedded as partner offerings and services which will then increase revenue. The ability to monetize services and adapt the quality of services to business agreements is a key requirement.
No, SOA has not gone away. The changes shift the focus to the objective, not the mean. We are not service oriented anymore—we deliver services.
To learn more about choosing the right integration partner that can support your adoption of Cloud, Mobile, Social and Big Data, read the latest report from Appvance.