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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...
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Inside IBM: SOA-Enabled Business Transformation
How IBM does it

Case Study 4: Export Validation - Regulatory Compliance
Business Context
IBM must comply with U.S. export regulations for product deliveries within the U.S. and abroad. This requirement is met by multiple applications performing export checks on customer demographic data and product purchases and delivery.

Each month the U.S. Export Regulations Office publishes a new version of its Denied Parties List. When a new list is distributed we have to check existing customer data against the new list to ensure none of the additions match existing customers.

Challenges
Multiple applications support U.S. export regulations compliance. Existing brittle legacy architecture made modifications and extensions cumbersome. Each time an application needed export checks integration work was required to incorporate the existing common export code. It was custom work each time and very specific to the application. The IBM Software Delivery and Fulfillment organization, responsible for implementing the U.S. Export Regulations Procedures, wanted a solution that would be easy to integrate and was highly reusable without rework.

SOA-based Solution
The Export Validation Service (EVS) was first deployed in December of 2003. Implemented as a Web Service, it's easily used by multiple business applications requiring export validation functionality.

The solution, includes externalized business rules that allow for real-time updates of U.S. government-driven compliance lists. The EVS fits perfectly with what service-orientation is intended for - use by multiple applications on different platforms since no specific integration is required.

EVS does export checks with the provisions for override capability. Requests and responses are sent in XML format using SOAP over HTTPS. Once a consumer application has set up an interface to access the EVC no additional changes are required.

Updates to the Denied Parties List or other export regulation checks are contained in the service. The consuming application sends customer demographic data via the defined interface implemented as XML documents. Export checks are run using this data and the results are returned via the defined interface. When there is an export failure the customer's data is added to an override administrator's queue for review via the Override Administration service.

Business Results
Through this solution IBM was able to improve responsiveness to frequently changing U.S. government export regulations. For new applications requiring export validation functionality, dramatic development cost and cycle time reductions were realized. In addition, measurable cost savings were achieved in ongoing support of compliance with changes in U.S. government Denial Parties List and other business rules.

Best Practices/Lessons Learned
During the implementation of this solution, we once again saw the importance of externalizing business rules. Besides providing more flexibility, externalized business rules allowed delegation of decision-making authority, accountability on rules interpretation, and support of a single team of experts. Identifying what decisions have to be made and who needs to make them is an important step in overall SOA governance.

The team has also used incremental onboarding of legacy applications that provided a non-disruptive transition path.

Conclusion
The parallel evolutions of businesses and IT raised the new challenge of establishing a tighter link between business strategy and enabling technologies. SOA finds increasingly broad acceptance and is emerging as the dominant technology to support business transformation as a significant step in bridging this business-IT gap.

The four SOA initiatives described in this article have helped IBM reach new levels of business efficiency through the faster introduction of new business capabilities and optimized business processes. As these case studies demonstrate, SOA enables historically isolated data and functionality to interoperate throughout enterprises and greatly improves collaboration with customers and business partners. It uses existing resources to improve productivity and the enterprise's ability to react quickly to changing business needs, regulatory demands and market conditions. SOA-enabled solutions help achieve desired business flexibility by providing increased visibility into business operations and making changing to processes and business rules faster, broader, and less expensive, even across organizational boundaries.

SOA could be one of the most significant technological advances helping enterprise achieve business agility required in 21st century.

Acknowledgments
I would like to thank my colleagues Carl Osipov, Geoffrey Meissner, and Lance Walker for their insight and their contributions by providing cases study experience reports. I would also like to thank many of my other IBM colleagues, consultants, architects, development and project managers, who developed innovative solutions and took their time to document and share their experiences and lessons learned (both best practices and anti-patterns). There are too many of them to mention.

Cited References and Notes
• L. Cherbakov, G. Galambos, R. Harishankar, S. Kalyana, and G. Rackham, "Impact of service orientation at the Business Level." IBM Systems Journal. Volume 44, Number 4, 2005. www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/444/cherbakov.html.
• Ron Schmelzer and Jason Bloomberg. ZapThink. April, 2006. www.zapthink.com/.
• IBM Press release. www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/7491.wss.
• "Patterns: Service-Oriented Architecture and Web Service." IBM Red Books. www.redbooks.ibm.com/redbooks/SG246303/wwhelp/wwhimpl/java/html/wwhelp.htm.
• developerWorks series On demand business process life cycle www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/ibm/ws-odbp/.
• Jenny Ang, Luba Cherbakov, and Mamdouh Ibrahim. "SOA Anti-patterns." developerWorks www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/webservices/library/ws-antipatterns/.

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

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