Service-oriented architecture has emerged as the most significant shift in how applications are designed, developed and implemented in the last 10 years.
A consortium of software vendors and consultants recently introduced the SOA Maturity Model, which is designed to provide IT decision makers with a framework for benchmarking the strategic value of their SOA implementations and planning. The model is divided into five levels.
Level 1: Initial services
At the initial stage, an organization creates definitions for services and integrates SOA into methodologies for project development. In a financial-services environment, a Level 1 project may use an application server or an enterprise service bus (ESB) adapter to create Simple Object Access Protocol and HTTP Web service invocations between a management system that places an order and a trading service that accepts the order.
Level 2: Architected services
At this stage, standards are set for the technical governance of an SOA implementation, typically under the leadership of the architecture organization. Standard SOA infrastructure and components, such as an ESB, a services and policies repository, an exception-management service, a transformation service and a single sign-on service, are used to foster greater reuse of services, as well as provide tight management and control of services across an organization.
Level 3: Business services and collaborative services
Level 3 features the introduction of business-oriented services, such as business process management (BPM). With a focus on the partnership between technology and business organizations, Level 3 optimizes the flexibility of business processes, allowing IT to respond quickly to changing business requirements.
For example, a Level 3 project utilizing BPM might use a Universal Description, Discovery and Integration registry to find a funds-transfer service that could significantly reduce settlement times. This service would be connected to the ESB process within hours of recognizing the business need.
Level 4: Measured business services
Level 4 provides continuous feedback on the performance and business impact of the processes implemented at Level 3. The key focus at this level is collecting data and providing that data to business users, enabling them to transform the way they respond to events.
In our example, a Level 4 project could introduce logging and a service to monitor business activity. These functions provide a collection and display process for business managers to view their trade routing operation and for compliance officers to monitor trading behaviors of their staff and customers.
Level 5: Optimized business services
At this final level, business-optimization rules are added, and the SOA becomes the nervous system for the enterprise. Automatic responses to the measurements and displays of Level 4 allow an organization to take immediate action on events.
A Level 5 project can take the request messages entering the ESB and route that information to an event-stream processor. This service correlates the behavior of all traders across multiple execution venues and identifies important patterns. This information might be used to execute new trades or stop a rogue trader who is out of view of compliance officers.
The SOA Maturity Model provides a framework for IT and business users to properly evaluate the applicability and benefits of SOA in an organization.
Bachman is senior director of product marketing at Sonic Software. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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