Web services has been the subject of much discussion, hype and promotion by the software industry and analysts, but companies that are adopting these technologies may encounter unexpected complexity if their architecture is not closely controlled.
That's the view of Gerrie Swart, product manager at
He explains that SOA is a set of structural features that go deeper into the corporate IT system than Web services. "Where Web services address the communications mechanisms to allow functions to be made public, SOA addresses the layering and structure of the software stack. By moving towards SOA through exposing core services in a loosely coupled way, companies can reduce complexity, improve re-use and enable agility," he says.
Key features of SOA include platform-independent interfaces, loose coupling of applications, business level granularity, and discoverability of applications. "Business processes are comprised of a number of steps. By increasing the granularity of these steps, extra functionality can be realised as each sub-process can be used by different applications through Web services," says Swart. For example, checking stock levels is a sub-process of order processing, and can also be used for stock replenishment functions and potentially other business processes.
Swart explains that while Web services solve some technical issues in terms of platform incompatibility and distributed computing across the Internet, deploying them builds a web of interdependencies, potentially creating a management nightmare. "To avoid this situation, SOA is an important consideration when installing Web services. The combination of the two provides a platform for business collaboration both within the enterprise and for business-to-business transacting," he says.In effect, SOA provides the framework that unites the business model with the applications that provide the functionality required for efficient business. "Without SOA, IT systems become a disjointed collection of packages, functions and screens that consume ever-increasing resources to maintain and evolve. SOA imposes a direct correlation between business operations and software services, making it a simple task to maintain and re-factor new systems from existing services," he explains.
Compuware's OptimalJ product is an application development environment that fully implements a model-driven approach to application design and development, while encapsulating SOA and Web services standards.
"Model-driven tools start with a logical business model and automatically transform this into an application. In doing this, OptimalJ automatically generates applications closely aligned to the business model while conforming to SOA and supporting Web services.
"The benefit of this approach is that Web services are developed as an integral part of the business model. When companies develop business models, they strive to continually improve them. Generating Web services as an integral part of the business model allows these services to dynamically change with the fluid business model," concludes Swart.
Compuware Corporation, a multibillion-dollar company, provides business value through software and professional services that optimise productivity and reduce costs across the application lifecycle. Meeting the rapidly changing needs of businesses of all sizes, Compuware`s market-leading solutions improve the quality, ease the integration and enhance the performance of distributed, e-business and enterprise software. For more information about Compuware, please contact the South African subsidiary on (011) 516 2900 or visit Compuware SA on the Web at http://www.compuware.co.za.
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