Inside IBM: SOA-Enabled Business Transformation
How IBM does it
By: Luba Cherbakov
May. 9, 2007 04:30 PM
While a successful SOA implementation can achieve several different business outcomes, there are often one or two key drivers that spark an initiative. It's worth mentioning that while benefits achieved through services reuse leading to reduced development and integration costs are essential in the long run they're secondary to SOA's business transformation value.
The IBM case studies described below had different desired outcomes and business drivers, both internal to the corporation and external, as depicted in Table 2.
Case Study 1: Customer Order Analysis and Tracking System - From Legacy to On-Demand
Buyers indirectly access COATS to order new machines, upgrades, and customizations, and change existing orders. The application sorts and prioritizes these orders, comparing them against manufacturing rules and the customer's installed hardware base. COATS "translates" customer orders into a bill-of-materials and other instructions, which are then forwarded to the appropriate manufacturing plants. The manufacturing plants fulfill the orders and ship them to customers.
With its hard-coded business rules, COATS couldn't be adapted easily to address the needs of IBM's business. To handle altered orders, including automatic alterations done by the scheduler system to meet customers' delivery dates, multiple databases had to be updated and queried, depending on geography and other parameters.
To support new product introductions, business opportunities, and outsourcing requirements, IBM frequently updated the application, spending considerable time and money on new functionality development - each version took six months to develop and more than 8,000 developer hours.
By early 2000 we knew we had to improve access to functionality and the valuable business data residing in the legacy system. We also had to be able to access it easily from other systems. Nevertheless, as with many enterprise-critical applications, "big bang" replacement was unaffordable and disruptive.
Figure 1 depicts the solution architecture that standardizes the connections between our business processes and IT requirements. In this architecture, the business rules are externalized and legacy system functionality is componentized to promote flexibility, scalability, and reuse.
The development team started with business process modeling using IBM's WebSphere Business Integration (WBI) Modeler. The workflows were enhanced using the WebSphere Application Developer - Integration Edition (WSAD-IE) tool with business objects from Rational XDE and integration of legacy adaptors. We connected legacy systems with business processes through IBM's CICS and MQ technologies.
This initiative helped us create methods for the incremental transformation of legacy business functions into agile SOA-enabled solutions. Best practices used and lessons learned included:
To learn more about how to build reusable assets to transform an order processing system, see the IBM developerWorks series On demand business process life cycle.
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