EMI exec on SOA integration of Web sites

Von Heather Havenstein

EMI Group PLC, owner of recording companies EMI, Capitol Records and Virgin Records, is building a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to more easily integrate and manage content on various artist, manager and fan Web sites. EMI estimates that the first phase of the project, launched last May, will eliminate about 30 percent of its manual entry on Web sites.

Seth Brady, director of application services, corporate and Web development at EMI Music North America, spoke to Computerworld about the Web services project.

What is the background of EMI"s Web services project? We (were using) multiple vendors for hosting Web sites for our labels. There were very (few) standards for how content like artist news was managed on any of these Web sites. We knew that as we moved all these existing Web sites into the new environment (by consolidating hosting), we were in a unique position to figure out how to syndicate our content.

Data is centralized and served up through XML Web services. If any of the sources of data change, there is no impact to the front end of the Web site. Before, if you ever upgraded any of the Web sites, anything as simple as moving a database involved multiple issues with needing to do work on the back end because it was all point-to-point integration.

What have been some of the advantages of using Web services? The Web services themselves have given us a layer of abstraction from the Web site on one end to the corporate data on the back end. It was much easier to centrally manage and leave front-end design elements in the hands of the label and artist managers.

How did you tackle challenges in the project? One of the things we did was to work with Avanade, who is our systems integration consultant, and use their (SOA framework). That allowed us to take advantage of things like auditing and logging, and some of those types of features that we didn"t have to write ourselves but could get from a proven framework. Avanade helped us reduce the amount of time we needed to invest in those kind of basic capabilities and refocus internal development on issues specific to EMI"s business.