IBM offers 'SOA Healthcheck' workshops

IBM's global services organization is adding "health check" services to its repertoire of technical services for SOA deployments, looking to assist users dealing with issues resulting from poor planning or partnerships with inexperienced or so-called proprietary IT vendors.

The company also is offering its "identity-aware ESB," which is an enterprise service bus that combines existing IBM products to provide identity management capabilities.

Health-check services and software will be offered in two workshops to be held at customer sites, featuring specialized diagnostics and triage capabilities to help identify potentially unhealthy areas and recommend cures for problem areas.

"We try to bring a real breadth of capability from the best practices that we've learned into these workshops," said Marie Wieck, vice president of middleware services at IBM.

With some clients, IBM has had to perform somewhat of a rescue mission after clients have done an initial application and then had problems with scalability or performance, Wieck said.

Workshops, which are priced in the US$50,000 range or less, include IBM SOA Applications and Services and Healthcheck Workshop and Infrastructure Healthcheck Workshop for SOA. Both are 2.5-day engagements intended for midmarket and large enterprises.

The applications and services workshop is intended to provide assurance that an SOA can expand beyond pilot projects. Factors such as application reuse and service use will be assessed, as will identification of rogue services as part of a governance policy. Security also will be checked for service controls and identity management.

The infrastructure workshop features an assessment of infrastructure supporting applications and services layers in an SOA. Elements examined include infrastructure flexibility, the ability to adapt to spikes in demand, and verifying SOA configurations for connectivity. A service management review ensures that services are being monitored.

IBM's identity-aware ESB combines WebSphere ESB products with Tivoli security and identity management software to help ensure that access to information, services, and applications is protected. Auditing of identity and access activity is enabled.

"Identity management is very critical so that you can ensure that only the right people get access to these services," Wieck said.

An analyst briefed on IBM's efforts lauded both the SOA and ESB programs.

"Customers who have started with a SOA need checkpoints to have an outside source assess what they are doing and how it compares to best practices," said Judith Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz & Associates. "Companies are investing a lot of money, resources, and political capital on SOA, and management wants to make sure they are on track and doing the right thing.

"Governance is a huge issue for customers in regards to SOA implementation. This is especially true since SOA is as much a business strategy as it is a technology strategy," Hurwitz said.

"In terms of ID-aware ESB -- clearly security and identity management are huge issues for companies because of governance issues related to security," she said.

IBM offers information about its SOA programs at its Web site.

Also on Monday, IBM is announcing an initiative to help business partners increase revenues and better serve customers. Grow Your Business (GYB) with IBM Software provides cross-brand sales scenarios across the IBM software group's product portfolio.

The GYB tool recommends scenarios that utilize business partners' existing areas of expertise. Partners through the initiative can analyze software products, get descriptions of business value, and determine return on investment via an online tool. Information is aggregated into one place.

An online guide to marketing and sales materials also is highlighted.

This story, "IBM offers 'SOA Healthcheck' workshops" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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