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April 3, 2005

IBM completes SOA service cycle

IBM will today announce a cradle-to-grave approach for helping customers create and operate services-oriented environments. The new Service-Oriented Architecture & Application Value Optimization offering, with a few exceptions, is not really a new product, but a blend of mostly existing services and methodologies for helping corporate customers web-enable their business systems.

By CBR Staff Writer

It caps 18 months of announcements addressing areas ranging from helping customers create competencies and centers of excellence for SOA enablement, methodologies for service creation, new updates to object-oriented patterns and reference architectures for SOA, and a methodology for prioritizing and selecting business processes for service enablement.

One of the few new services announced with today’s release is an extension of IBM’s existing Application Value Management Service (AVM) asset management service to SOA-based environments.

In effect, Service-Oriented Architecture & Application Value Optimization is a lifecycle approach aimed at large enterprises that are stepping beyond low-risk web services pilots and are getting serious about service-enabling the core of their business.

It begins with Business Enablement, a service that promotes awareness of how SOAs can benefit the business, then proceeds to build internal competency centers, a governance plan, high level architecture, and long-term transition plan.

At design stage, IBM offers services to flesh out architecture, deployment, and vendor selection, which IBM claims is not necessarily limited to WebSphere.

We are SAP’s largest implementation partner, said Michael Liebow, IBM vice president of web services, who claimed the practice would support NetWeaver if that were the client’s choice.

The offering covers actual implementation and post-deployment management, where services are tracked for performance, adherence with service-level agreements (SLAs), security and compliance issues, and ongoing operational maintenance.

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Among IT service firms, IBM is hardly unique in offerings aimed at SOA-enablement. Instead, there are a couple of areas where Service-Oriented Architecture & Application Value Optimization has secret sauce.

The first is the Services-Oriented Modeling Architecture (SOMA), providing a methodology for enterprises to model the business and prioritize which processes to service enable. It leverages IBM’s Component Business Modeling methodology, an approach that at first glance would seem to confuse the issue, because CBM looks at componentizing existing services into components, while service enablement would appear to do quite the opposite.

Despite the emphasis on modeling, there appears to be very little Rational content in all this, as SOMA and CBM originated from IBM’s Business Consulting Services, the former Price Waterhouse consulting unit.

The other unique piece is the addition of an operational management component that extends IBM’s existing Application Value Management (AVM) legacy software infrastructure offering to web services. For instance, it could be used to identify unique processes within a legacy application portfolio to service enable, then provide a plan for sunsetting redundant functionality among overlapping systems such as invoicing once the new service has been deployed.

Because AVM tackles not only the inventorying of assets, but also managing their operation, it takes on configuration, performance management, and security. The latter is an especially touchy area, because at first glance, web services and SOAs open access, not just to data, but processes to a point where anyone concerned with SOX 404 compliance could get extremely nervous.

IBM’s Service-Oriented Architecture & Application Value Optimization represents one of the first attempts to provide an end-to-end approach that ventures beyond the software development aspects of web services and SOA enablement. Although XML and web services provide their own unique technology challenges, probably the greatest challenge for IBM’s new end-to-end SOA enablement offering will entail delivering a more sophisticated approach to access control and audit trails that will make the 404 police happy.

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