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In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
SYS-CON.TV
Inside IBM: SOA-Enabled Business Transformation
How IBM does it

Like many other enterprises, IBM is transforming itself in response to fierce global competition and partnering, real security threats, the plethora of regulatory requirements, and demands for more flexibility and agility. Service-oriented thinking and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) play an important role in this transformation.

In this article I describe four IBM SOA-enabled transformation initiatives, driven by different business value propositions - from regulatory compliance, to a more flexible business model, to cost reduction by eliminating duplicate systems and processes. For each case study, I describe business situation and challenges, changes that were implemented to effect the transformation, SOA-enabled solution, and tangible business results. I also describe the best SOA-practices used, technologies that enabled each solution and lessons learned.

Much has been written about the current business environment and the undergoing dramatic changes: fierce competition from traditional and non-traditional players, ever changing regulatory compliance requirements, pressure to create new revenue sources, and demands for more innovation and flexibility. To succeed in this environment, enterprises are transforming by rethinking industry structures, becoming componentized, and adopting service orientation to achieve desired flexibility.

SOA finds increasingly broad acceptance and is emerging as the dominant technology to support such business transformation by providing tighter links between business processes and enabling IT. While analysts call IBM "one of the foremost pioneers in the movement toward Service-Oriented Architecture" for work with its clients, most people don't know that IBM's SOA test bed has been IBM itself. To date, IBM has deployed more than 90 services that have sped our transformation into an on-demand business. As a result, clients often ask us to share our experience with them. In this article I'll describe four IBM initiatives that represent a wide range of business challenges solved by SOA-enabled solutions.

The case studies include:

  1. Customer Order Analysis and Tracking System [COATS]
  2. Microelectronics "factory in a box" [Microelectronics]
  3. IBM Intranet Password External [IIPX] - identity management for business partner applications
  4. Export Validation [Export]
Some of these case studies represent common problems facing many industries, (e.g., case IIP), while others are industry-specific problems, with typical challenges that can be successfully addressed by SOA (e.g., microelectronics).

Readers, who ask why they should consider SOA or want to create a business case for its adoption, may find the Table 1 Business value propositions for SOA adoption below and the detailed descriptions of business drivers for each initiative helpful.

In addition to business context, each case study describes the challenges that the initiative had to overcome, an architectural overview of the SOA solution, and details on the resulting business benefits. I'll also describe best practices, and "lessons learned" that IBM is replicating now across the company and with its clients.

SOA Value Propositions
During the last few years, my colleagues and I have worked with hundreds of clients to implement SOA-based solutions to various business problems. While everyone is talking about business flexibility and agility, initiatives are usually driven by a concrete business value proposition. Desired outcomes can fall into several categories described in Table 1.




About Luba Cherbakov
Luba Cherbakov works as an IBM Distinguished Engineer, IBM

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