Companies weigh the value of introducing SOA

By Jeff Jedras, Computerworld Canada |  SOA

Service-oriented architecture, or SOA, is all the buzz these days, but those in the know say the concepts behind SOA have really been around for some time.

Not a technology per se, SOA is rather a way of designing systems that communicate with each other in a self-contained way so they don't depend on the context or state of the other services.

For business process modeling (BPM) software vendor IDS Scheer North America, a subsidiary of German BPM vendor IDS Scheer AG, the hype around SOA underscored the company's message to the market around the role its ARIS modeling platform can play in designing business architectures that fulfill the service models inherent within SOA. IDS Scheer sees a company modeling its business process with the vendor's ARIS toolset as an important first step before an ERP implementation.

"It has made our lives a lot easier because we've been preaching these concepts for years," said Jason Mausberg, managing director, IDS Scheer Canada. "Now when we're talking to customers, some of those concepts are better understood."

IDS Scheer AG's CTO, Wolfram Jost, said the company will be investing heavily in SOA-related technologies going forward, and has already released its ARIS SOA Designer offering.

He added surveys have shown that inadequate support for cross-functional processes is a top business process management concern, and an SOA-based approach at the modeling stage can make for business applications more flexible to changes in business processes.

"If you implement an ERP (system) today you can guarantee in a year you'll need to change your processes, and today's architectures cannot support process changes easily and [inexpensively]," said Jost. "SOA is an enabler to allow changes to business processes."

When it comes to making the pitch to the CEO for an SOA-based approach, though, Jost said the case must be made in business terms.

"It's important to show to your executive management that this technical stuff supports higher growth and profit," said Jost.

Despite the SOA hype, it appears getting that executive buy-in remains an uphill battle. Steve Tieman, vice-president of strategic modernization initiatives with Est

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