Point to Point = SOA, Huh?

Unrealized Savings Potential from Existing (SOA) Initiatives.

It is no secret that a large percentage of Oracle Fusion Middleware customers are using Oracle SOA technologies for integrating enterprise applications such as Oracle CRM or ERP. Many may view these projects as, (or maybe replacing), EAI like point-to-point integrations of legacy systems to satisfy immediate business needs while others have charted out a long-term SOA vision for service reuse. This illustrates some key differences in various customers SOA adoption patterns which became apparent to me during a recent discussion with a customer who is long term user of Oracle BPEL PM for integrating various enterprise back end systems. They were very familiar with the newer SOA tooling but when I quizzed them on how they managed their service portfolio to achieve shared reuse, I got blank stares which indicated to me they were not as far along the SOA maturity curve as what I would have expected for a long term Oracle BPEL PM customer. This lead to a detailed discussion about the many benefits and challenges of adopting SOA and shared services reuse strategy.

The benefits of this approach while evident to many were not clear to this customer and I suspect many others as well, especially those in the depths of complex enterprise system integration projects. Significant savings can and should be realized when adding additional consumers to that CRM endpoint. What SOA tooling delivers here is that classic ESB many to one mediation consumer pattern that allows multiple consumers to access the same endpoint by (re) using a SOAP or REST based proxy service. Beyond the benefits of de coupling the service endpoint provider from the consumer for ease of endpoint change management, this proxy service can also be reused by portals, enterprise or legacy systems for future integrations with other business units. In a simplistic view of savings, it is easy to envision a 50% savings on future integrations of that endpoint minus whatever overhead is associated with governing and extending the service to meet additional consumers needs. This infrastructure overhead should not be underestimated and may take time but is key for reaching the critical goal of building trust with new prospective consumers of these services. So what does this all have to do with governance you may ask.

One of the main values of SOA Governance is to deliver savings by enabling this reuse of existing services and underlying assets, by creating and managing a shared service and asset portfolio. The first goal is to deliver visibility of these services and assets since logically, if you don’t know what is available, then you cannot even begin to reuse it. Once there is adequate visibility, there needs to be some controls put in place to monitor and manage the usage of these services to guarantee meeting the requirements of the various business organizations using them. A hidden benefit of this approach is to promote communications among these various business stakeholders but that is for another topic. Good governance tooling can promote this Visibility, Control and Monitoring necessary to manage a shared service portfolio. This is loosely referred to closed loop governance. The 2 main components for implementing closed loop governance are:

1) Enterprise Repository which provides the visibility and is the single source of truth for consumption of assets such as WSDL, XML schema’s, BPEL processes, web service endpoints etc…

2) Enterprise Monitoring Manager enables IT staff and prospective consumers the ability to see how a service is performing and key to building that consumer trust we mentioned previously.

The Repository and Monitoring tools must be integrated such that when consumers browse the repository, they can see historical information to help them decide if this service will meet their requirements for performance, security and availability.

While all of this may seem like SOA Governance 101 for service reuse, it really is just meant to bring attention to the fact that many users of SOA Technologies especially those doing point to point like integrations with SOA tooling may not be thinking in terms of reusable service portfolios. Even though they have built some services that are potentially sharable, by adding some initial SOA reuse methodologies and governance tooling, organizations can head down the path to realize paybacks on their existing enterprise integration investments. As it turns out, it is not a stretch to draw the modern corollary that reuse is a very ecological, even green activity that is far more useful than it’s older sibling, recycling which requires additional investment for repurposing existing materials. More on this later.


Good point, Dave. Visibility of reusable artifacts is only the first step. Often organizational units suffer from the 'not invented here syndrome'. Here's where governance really comes in. There should be a organization directive that states 'Re-use, unless'. And it's up to the governance board to either acknowledge or deny the wish to divert from the originally delivered solution. But it's this last hurdle that a lot of companies seem unable or unwilling to take. Politics comes into play of course, but in reality people tend to think that governance costs money, that benefits are not clear enough. Still a lot of evangelizing to do, i guess.

Posted by Mike van Alst on April 15, 2009 at 07:05 PM PDT #

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