The SOA Consortium hosted two end-user panels at Gartner’s Application Architecture, Development and Integration Summit this week. Notes taken during our SOA Success Stories panel follow. Read about our Cloud Computing in the Real World panel here.
Session Abstract: Tough economic climates call for tough decisions. Instead of jeopardizing the future by cutting out all initiatives mentioning architecture, the organizations represented on this panel continue to invest in their business-driven SOA initiatives, resulting in near-term business value and creating a viable foundation for continued business optimization and growth initiatives. In this session, SOA Consortium and CIO magazine case study contest winners, along with leading members of the SOA Consortium, will share insight from their SOA success stories, including the business challenge addressed, achieved ROI, business participation, lessons learned and how they have, or plan to, incorporate complementary techniques such as BPM, event processing, business analytics and cloud computing.
Panelists: Tom Keen, CTO of BlueStar Energy, Leo Shuster, Director of Application Development at Safeguard Properties, John Woolbright, CIO for Omega Financial and Scott Metzger, CTO TransUnion Interactive
Moderators: Richard Soley, OMG/SOA Consortium and Daniel Sholler
Leo Shuster: Prior to Safeguard, was running SOA program at National City Bank. National City has since been absorbed PNC. National City was industry recognized leader in SOA, post-merger, PNC shut-down the SOA program. However, everything that was delivered from the SOA program is running in production, adding value to the business.
Tom Keen: BlueStar Energy was a SOA Consortium 2009 Case Study Contest Winner, see the write-up of their winning case. Took an engineering approach to this project. Iterative plan for value delivery. Technology stack is open source, about 98%. Spent a lot of time on resiliency. View the technology stack as temporal. Some has been replaced out already, replacement also open source.
Business success: explosion of product, entered new territories, new demographic market, all done in initial timeframe estimate. Have had very little IT attrition with this approach. Currently on 4th generation of NextStar.
Scott Metzger: Startup developing capabilities that needed to be delivered across multiple channels, in multiple regions. Some capabilities were developed internally, others were third party sourced. Startup was acquired by TransUnion Interactive. The business, technical and change requirements were best met with SOA. Now, some of the services are being offered to customers via the cloud, by creating APIs into the services.
John Woolbright: Previously, John was with Synovus Financial. Synovus was the grand winner in the 2008 SOA Consortium Case Study contest, see the write-up. John shares that Synovus is well positioned with SOA platform to emerge from economic downturn.
Q: For Leo, why didn’t the new management embrace SOA?
A: Cultural issue with acquiring bank. PNC is siloed. As acquirer, there was a bit of not-invented-here (NIH).
Q: For Scott, was your technology approach a reason for the acquisition?
A: Yes. The agility the infrastructure offered allowed the acquiring organization to meet agility and growth goals. Scott’s team, framework and approach became the “tail that wagged the dog”, driving SOA adoption within the acquiring company.
Q: Types of services, exposing services externally?
Leo: Majority of services were internal. The services weren’t directly tied to revenue streams, like Synovus’ and TransUnion’s services are.
Q: BlueStar had enterprise architecture initiative at center of SOA, was that true for other panelists?
John: Started with centralized strategy, enterprise (shared) ESB. Learned that a federated approach, with well-defined domains of control, and well-defined standards, was a better approach. So, EA approach, but not centralized strategy. EA provided investment protection, such as establishing contracts with key vendors. Having well defined service standards saved them money in contracting the development of services.
Q: SOA as management approach versus technology approach?
Tom: A major building block in their success was business engagement. The business has accepted responsibility for the delivery of NextStar. The business speaks to IT in terms of business services, architecture and refactoring, when discussing new business opportunities and the work required to attain the new business capability (new product, new market). Tom has so much support that asking for a 23% budget increase resulted in a 68% budget increase. The business believes in the value of the architecture and program and understands that continued investment enables continued revenue growth.
Q: Role of master data management, BPM, etc in SOA success?
Leo: Successful SOA depends on services. BPM became ancillary because the services layer was in place. Services were created to expose master data.
John: Applied process thinking to the project. How do you break out a project into a process approach. How do you orchestrate the work across domains.
Tom: Leverage business rules, semantics from BPM in SOA.
An audience question on technology problems. The theme of answers was the complexity of the distributed computing environment. In one example, an unknown firewall blocked a service request for weeks. In another, there was a code check-in miss on a bug fix. Subsequent version of code reintroduced bug. The key is to have visibility into your environment. Integrate your service development processes into existing code and change management practices.
Another question called out the need for a proactive approach to SOA security. Plan a security framework, don’t append security as an after thought.
Another called out need to isolate impact of version or provider changes. Implement a proxy layer to allow for seamless upgrades and backwards compatibility.