Sunday Apr 06, 2014

MDM and SOA: Be Warned! part of Industrial SOA series

Introduction "You will waste your investment in SOA unless you have enterprise information that SOA can exploit." – Gartner

This quote from Gartner, Inc. describes the relationship between service-oriented architecture (SOA) and master data management (MDM) very vividly. An essential principle behind SOA is the reuse of components and the flexibility of using these components to support new functionalities or processes. MDM provides universal components (or services) for consistent data maintenance and distribution. Here the architecture concepts and principles of SOA run into MDM.

This article begins by giving a brief motive for using MDM and a conceptualization. It will then go on to present typical variants for possible MDM architecture concepts, and illustrate the interplay of MDM and SOA with reference to the architecture pattern.

Motive
Increasing pressure from competition means that business models and underlying business processes have to be adapted in ever shorter cycles. At the same time, globalization and the digital networking of companies are making interaction with external business partners even more complex. Securely exchanging high-quality data is crucial for increasing efficiency in processes. This is where the central issue, the quality of information, and therefore its security in transactions, evaluations, and reports, all stem from. Once a company is no longer in a position to provide a consistent and consolidated view of its central business objects, implementing a company-wide policy for master data management becomes a good idea.

Unfortunately, in many companies today it is common for IT systems to be unable to keep up with fast changes in organization, business, and even technology. As a result, on the companies' side, a vast, ever-growing web of IT systems with known integration problems comes into being. This heterogeneity accounts for a variety of challenges when using master data that include differences in:

  • imgdata structures and formats in master data
  • specifications and understanding of the master data values in the participating organizational units
  • validations and plausibilities (data quality)
  • processes and responsibilities concerning data sovereignty (data governance)
  • business processes with partially conflicting functionalities in the application systems
  • organizational units that have different systems for master data maintenance

Read the complete article here. Share your comments and feedback on the Industrial SOA series by using the hashtag #industrialSOA. Read the full article at the Service Technology Magazine or Oracle Technology Network. Missed an article of the Industrial SOA series visit the overview at OTN.

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Friday Feb 07, 2014

Event-Driven SOA part of Industrial SOA series

imgAbstract: If we consider real companies and their business transactions, we see that the real world is not really service-driven at all, but much more event-driven. A new customer is created in the system, a new car reservation is made, a vehicle is returned or needs to be taken to the shop. All of these "functions" can be supported by services, but often also by precisely defined process chains.

However, complex business processes can rarely be automated "in one piece," as the real exceptions and dependencies of diverse business processes are highly dynamic. That brings us to the point where the concept of "event" becomes useful in our architectures. In this article, we therefore want to shine light on event-driven architectures and tie them into our current argumentation chains in SOA.

Dealing with Business Events
Most companies now collect business-relevant information by aggregating available data. As a rule, this is in the domain of data warehouses which condense information a follow-up to preceding events. Here the focus is directly on the data and not on the process information, which is actually much more interesting. We miss out on the ability to process business information in near-realtime, which would allow the company management to react much more quickly to events as they occur. The discipline of business intelligence is developing rapidly in order to take this issue into account. In the following, we want to consider the underlying mechanisms, or the events which allow faster reactions to important changes. Read the complete article here.

Share your comments and feedback on the Industrial SOA series by using the hashtag #industrialSOA. Read the full article at the Service Technology Magazine or Oracle Technology Network. Missed an article of the Industrial SOA series visit the overview at OTN.

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Friday Jan 17, 2014

SOA in Real Life: Mobile Solutions part of the Industrial SOA article series

ind-soa-mobile-fig02Abstract: Any place, any time: the old promise from the dotcom age has never been more relevant. With the release of the iPhone, Apple set off a huge amount of hype. Many people now have a laptop with broadband Internet connection and/or WLAN or UMTS Internet access. Yet these devices are still too large, too awkward, and take too long to boot up to be usable at any time. On the other hand, almost everyone has a smartphone these days, making them more mobile than ever in today's economy.

Smartphones are enormously practical and are becoming more and more powerful. They are generally very easy to operate, can be used almost anywhere, and the mobile web is becoming both faster and cheaper. App stores are shooting up everywhere and new functions can be installed with a single click. As the saying has it: "There's an app for everything."

The use of built-in sensors provides for entirely new possibilities such as Google Maps integration, location-based services, augmented reality, etc. Built-in cameras are becoming more and more powerful and are often used as a second compact camera. Video telephony is becoming more common - not just on Skype, now long-established, but also through Apple Facetime. The speed of innovation is tremendous.

Use Cases

A very high percentage of apps are games, followed by information systems that are mainly of interest to private users. These information systems are making increased use of the built-in functions on the mobile device. For example, the system identifies my location via GPS and can provide me with information via a personalized localization. Using the integrated camera one can scan a barcode and run a price comparison through the system. Previously unthinkable "Star Trek" technology is now (almost) a reality. Soon we will have combined tricorders/communicators/tablets in a single device.

More and more companies are viewing mobile solutions as a means by which to accelerate processes, incorporate external partners more easily into processes, and lower their own process costs. We are already using numerous examples for B2C services such as booking flights by cell phone, tracking packages, and finding out delivery dates and opening hours. To optimize these functions for your own company, creative ideas are required: How can I increase customer loyalty? While B2C applications are already spreading very rapidly and probably represent the core business of all non-game apps, B2B is developing only slowly. One of the central questions here is how additional services can be offered to the business partner. According to Gartner, top growth areas include location-based services, social networks, mobile search, mobile commerce, mobile cash, context-aware services, object recognition, mobile instant messaging, mobile e-mail, and mobile video. Read the complete article here.

The articles are and will be published at OTN and the Service Technology Magazine.

Send us your feedback Twitter @twitter/soacommunity #industrialSOA

Jürgen KressHajo NormannClemens Utschig-UtschigTorsten WinterbergDanilo SchmiedelGuido Schmutz

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Wednesday Dec 18, 2013

SOA and User Interfaces (UI) part of Industrial SOA series

Overcoming the challenges to developing user interfaces in a service oriented architecture.

Part of the Industrial SOA article series

Abstract: The interaction between user-interfaces and services in an Service Oriented Architecture is an often-neglected topic. This article focuses on the particular challenges that need to be overcome when creating user-interfaces while entire process chains have to be called and interacted with. After outlining some general architectural considerations, the authors describe a practical application of Thomas Erl's UI Mediator pattern that will be accompanied by their own technical experience.

Introduction

In the simplest scenario, a user's interaction with a business process consists of initiating the process and awaiting the result. However, processes very rarely run completely automatically, meaning human intervention in a process cycle is an important requirement. The WS-HumanTask specification can fulfill this requirement in the SOA environment. A standardized API that is defined for a workflow service can be used to fill a mailbox with tasks. If the process automation language BPEL is used, the BPEL4People specification defines how this mailbox functionality can be used directly in the process cycle by means of the WS-Human Task. Of course, this is possible from BPMN, too.

For example, if manual approval or the input of additional data is needed during a process cycle, the process can determine the correct actor and deposit the task in their mailbox via the task service. The HumanTask service provides a Web service API for this functionality. The users receive the entries in their mailbox and process the pending tasks sequentially, while the process resumes its work in the background.

Human Interaction & Mailboxes

This solution concept is flawless from a technical viewpoint, but its handling is unfamiliar to many users. Workflows can even be perceived as disruptive for short processes that lack role changes, since conventional data-driven application systems can provide immediate responses without detouring to a mailbox. Process control is embedded in the interface control.

Users are their own process masters when such conventional applications are used, whereas a mailbox-supported solution subjects the users to the restrictions of a prescribed process.

Anyone designing classic BPMN or BPEL processes with mailbox interaction understands that users will be faced with a long list of tasks in their mailbox, which often require mechanical and repetitive interactions. Nowadays, many technical departments are aware of this issue, and provide assistance to the users whose daily processes need their requirements recorded.

With the advent of SOA and loose coupling, work processes are further automated and process control is gradually shifted to the back-end. Excessively close coupling of processes and interfaces should be avoided, since processes can also be subject to frequent adaptations due to flexibility. Decoupling via the mailbox is generally the most effective solution.

Read the full article in the Service Technology Magazine or at OTN.

Share your comments and feedback on the Industrial SOA series by using the hashtag #industrialsoa.

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Thursday Nov 07, 2013

Understanding Service Compensation part of Industrial SOA series

imgSome of the most important SOA design patterns that we have successfully applied in projects will be described in this article. These include the Compensation pattern and the UI mediator pattern, the Common Data Format pattern and the Data Access pattern. All of these patterns are included in Thomas Erl's book, "SOA Design Patterns", and are presented here in detail, together with our practical experiences. We begin our "best of" SOA pattern collection with the Compensation pattern.

Compensation is required in error situations in an SOA, as multiple atomic service operations cannot generally be linked with classic transactions this would violate the principle of loose coupling. An error situation of this sort will occur, particularly if service operations are combined into processes or new services during orchestration or by applying the Composite pattern, and the transaction bracket has to be expanded as a result. We need mechanisms to undo the effects of individual services (the status changes in the overall system) and to ensure that a consistent system state is maintained at all times, so as to preserve system integrity. For the Compensation pattern, we would like to address the following questions: Why is compensation important in relation to SOA? How is the topic of compensation linked with the topic of transactions? What are the challenges with regard to compensation... Read the full article in the Service Technology Magazine or at OTN.

Share your comments and feedback on the Industrial SOA series by using the hashtag #industrialsoa.

Missed an article of the Industrial SOA series visit the overview at OTN.

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Thursday Oct 10, 2013

Securing the SOA Landscape part of Industrial SOA series

imgIntroduction

Security requirements are usually relatively easy to manage when using local restrictions in conventional closed systems. They become more complex in the distributed system landscape of an SOA. Not limited to only an application or an application domain anymore, security must work across a range of applications and business processes.

Numerous security standards have been created in order to realize these comprehensive security requirements. These include WS-SecurityPolicy, WS-Trust, XML Encryption, XKMS, XML Signature, WS-Federation, WS-SecureConversation, SAML1, SAML2, and many more. Currently, no product or open source framework can fully support all of these standards. In our experience, incompatibilities arise whenever an SOA product or deployed Web service framework needs to communicate outside of its small ecosystem.

Not surprisingly, project managers who are confronted with increasing expenses tend to start looking for viable alternatives. They then usually choose to develop inflexible solutions in-house that can quickly implement risky anti-patterns, such as transferring usernames and passwords within the functional payload. The variety of different standards makes it difficult to formulate a clear understanding of the available security standards and internal product dependencies, in light of the individual restrictions to designing a well-secured system.

Our aim is to provide IT experts and SOA architects with tips on how to handle security responsibly, using tried and true best practices as a basis.

How Much Security Do I Need?

Security plays a crucial role due to SOA's extensively networked nature, yet is not required by all of the different types of applications and architecture layers to the same degree. Defining both internal and external security requirements for the entire organization and its individual departments by conceptually developing the implementation is therefore important.

Read the full article at the Service Technology Magazine or Oracle Technology Network.

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Friday Aug 30, 2013

Enterprise Service Bus article part of Industrial SOA series

Everyone seems to need to use an enterprise service bus (ESB) nowadays, but there is so much confusion about its actual benefit and the various concepts this term entails. This uncertainity is revealed in statements like, "Help! My boss says we need an ESB," or "Why do I need an ESB at all? Can't I achieve the same thing with BPEL or BPMN?" or even "We can do everything ourselves in language X." This article is an attempt to answer some of the most important questions surrounding this term using concrete examples, so that the areas of application that can be deemed "correct" for ESBs can be clarified:

  • What exactly is the definition of an ESB? Is it a product or an architecture pattern?
  • What are some practical uses for an ESB?
  • Do I need an ESB to build an SOA platform?
  • Which requirements do I need to satisfy?
  • Which criteria can I use to select the ESB that is most suitable for my needs?

Defining the ESB
An accepted definition for this term has yet to be firmly established that is most likely caused by a lack of industry standards, whereas standards like BPEL and BPMN 2.0 exist for process engines and other components. The term “Enterprise Service Bus” was coined by Gartner in 2002, and further introduced by the analyst Roy Schulte to describe a category of software products that he observed were available on the market at that time. Ten years later, there is still very little agreement on what exactly an ESB is or what it should deliver. There are different definitions depending on the manufacturer or source. Among other things, an ESB is defined as:

"A style of integration architecture that allows communication via a common communication bus that consists of a variety of point-to-point connections between providers and users of services."

"An infrastructure that a company uses for integrating services in the application landscape."
Read the full article here.

img

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Tuesday Aug 27, 2013

SOA Maturity Alongside Contract Standardization Published – Service Technology Magazine Issue LXXIII

Introduction: In Search of the Holy Grail of SOA

In this article, we present and explore the fundamentals of applying the factory approach to modern service-oriented software development in an attempt to marry SOA industrialization with service contracts. As service developers and designers, how can we successfully fulfill factory requirements and achieve the essential characteristic of industrialized SOA while remaining compliant with standards on the service contract level? img

Thinking in terms of contracts has been found to be requisite for granular sourcing strategies that virtualize underlying implementations. Contracts also function as a common language between business units and IT teams, across cloud computing technologies, and for future-proof and agile enterprises in general.

Let's imagine that today's "pre-industrialized" world has become one in which contracts are been replaced by organizational and technical silos and the best solutions available. In today's SOA landscape, functional components are created for specific applications, often redundantly and lacking organization-wide standardization at the interface level. These components work well in a "silo" landscape in which the "application SOA" architecture is particularly suitable within the context of single applications.

Figure 1 illustrates the simplicity of combining services within applications that results from standardized design and structures being used as the framework for interfaces and exchanged data: Read the full article here.

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Saturday Jul 27, 2013

Additional new content SOA & BPM Partner Community

· Article Series: Industrial SOA Written collaboratively by eight acknowledged SOA experts, this article series explores the steps necessary to service oriented architecture to the next level: industrialized SOA. The first two articles in this 14-part series are now available on OTN. Read the articles.

· On the Integrity of Data An introduction to the basics of data integrity enforcement in a variety of environments by Oracle ACE Director Lucas Jellema. Read the article.

· Creating a Cloud Roadmap The latest addition to the IT Strategies from Oracle library, this Oracle Practitioner Guide describes a robust process for creating a roadmap for adoption of Cloud Computing within an enterprise. Read the white paper.

· Cookbook: Middleware as a Service Using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Step-by-step instructions for provisioning an Oracle WebLogic domain using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. Read the white paper.

· Podcast: The State of SOA SOA is alive and kicking and more important than ever. A panel comprised of four of the experts behind the Industrial SOA article series explains why. Listen to the podcast.

· Oracle Service Bus PS6 (11.1.1.7) available for downloadHighlights of this new release include a new config tool to package resources, T2P plugin; WS-Security with MTOM and SwA; SFTP specify Cipher Suite, Hash, Key; OWSM Policy for RESTful services, and more. Read the article.

· Cloud Integrations with Oracle SOA Suite This Oracle Learning Library video demonstration shows you how to connect with the RightNow CX Cloud Service using Oracle SOA Suite. Watch the video.

· Oracle Fusion Middleware Tech Talk: Business Process Management Amit Zavery, vice president of product management for Oracle Fusion Middleware, discusses the importance of business process management and how Oracle Unified Business Process Management Suite is benefitting customers across all industries

· Oracle SOA Suite Team Blog: Latest Release - Oracle SOA Suite 11.1.1.7

· Oracle Magazine, May 2013: Integrate and Mobilize - SOA Bridges the Past and PresentInterested in more content from Oracle Magazine? Get your free subscription today.

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Monday Jul 22, 2013

Canonizing a Language for Architecture: An SOA Service Category Matrix Published at Service Technology Magazine Issue LXXII

Services have to meet different architecture and governance requirements and their relevance is determined by how the services are reused. The arrangement and structure significantly affect the analysis and design of the services, which in turn determine the level of granularity. Categorizing services makes it easy to arrange them according to service usage in the procedural landscape, which helps prevent unwanted entanglements.

SOA architectures that have not undergone categorization quickly become "adapter" SOAs that lack a clear division of responsibilities. The orchestration of business processes in these architectures is interspersed with technical service calls that can lead to unaccountable call sequences.

To tackle these challenges, a vocabulary that SOA professionals can use to describe different types of services has been developed. We explore the various possibilities for categorizing SOA services in this article, before introducing the range of service categories that we have successfully implemented in projects. The SOA service categorization matrix in Figure 1 contextualizes the concepts that are presented.

Read the full article at the Service Technology Magazine or Oracle Technology Network

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