Among all the tasks that face the enterprise looking to modernize, improving business agility is first, according to Andy Gordon, Application modernization Platform as a Service (AMPS) director for Unisys. SOA is a part of that effort, he says, because business agility means you are ”developing capabilities that are built to change.”
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Today, ”the parts are interoperable,” he said, noting that ”APIs have now become products for a lot of companies and public sector agencies.” These public APIs must be flexible, and be able to support an increasingly broader user base.
”APIs are now recognized as a first-class revenue generator that is solidifying the need to have a service-oriented enterprise – one with the expertise to do services and to be agile,” he said.
Gordon said Unisys is rolling out new services, known as the AMPS Center of Excellence, to help companies improve their application modernization initiatives. The services suite includes an AMPS SOA Governance and an AMPS SOA Operational Software Platform. Some of the new parts are supplied via deals with other software providers such as EMC Documentum, SOA Software and RedHat JBoss – with special Unisys-tailored customizations, based on the company’s extensive work in the field.
SOA infrastructure provides a useful ”backplane,” according to Gordon, to help orchestrate and manage the new style of API. ”A SOA management intermediary is valuable,” he said. ”It brings the management of APIs, security, logging, protocol mediation and a dashboard for watching services activity.”
Still, like others, Gordon emphasizes that ”SOA is something you do, not something you buy.” As a result, SOA Assessment services and SOA Strategy services are part of the AMPS Center of Excellence.
We asked Gordon to share a few useful tips for achieving a successful enterprise SOA. He noted three elements that need to be in place. These follow.
3 Tips for Laying the Strategic Groundwork of a Successful Enterprise-Wide SOA
1. A prioritization process for requirements that emphasizes enterprise priorities in lieu of departmental priorities
2. A highly transparent, participative governance process comprising all stakeholders including a virtual team of service providers led by the SOA Program Director to ensure uninterrupted support for the SOA initiative.
3. An unbounded commitment of an executive sponsor to steadfastly support this organizational transformation.
Requirements for services in an enterprise-wide SOA initiative are determined and funded according to the priorities of the enterprise as a whole, rather than those of departments. This forces alignment of business with IT ensuring the goals of SOA are aligned with organizational objectives. That requires participatory governance and communication processes and especially greater interaction with the business lines.
Sound governance begins with a strategic plan that includes the business goals. These goals, in turn, can be transformed into IT requirements with clear line of sight from business goal to IT requirements, followed by high-level design specifications through testing, deployment maintenance, and application end of life.
A key responsibility of the executive sponsor (or their delegate) is to be the final decision making authority when the participative governance process reaches a stalemate during a task. The stalemate may occur during requirements prioritization, or there could be a disagreement on the timing for delivering new capability to customers.