IBM, BEA Bolster SOA Services

Von Paul Krill

Hoping to speed acceptance of its service-oriented architecture initiative, IBM Corp. at last has rolled out a new service to help corporate users shape their projects to better fit their business goals.

The new service, called SOMA (Service Oriented Modeling and Architecture), is intended to help users solve technical and business problems and also offers a more consistent way to develop technology that provides a better financial return.

"We are seeing more clients adopt SOAs. But fundamentally, what hasn"t been cracked yet is this notion of, "How do I know I am implementing the right parts of the SOA?" or "How do I know I am exposing the right services that bring the biggest bang for my buck?" or "How do I know I am focused on the right business process areas in terms of what the technology can deliver?". This service can help in these areas," said Jim Hilt, IBM"s SOA strategy manager with the company"s Global Services unit in Somers, N.Y.

The SOMA service helps to ensure that goals set by business process modeling are implemented in a way that generates the greatest result in an efficient manner, Hilt said. By evolving an SOA across the breadth of existing infrastructure, IT resources can be freed up, better ensuring that technology investments are more focused on a company"s core capabilities, he added.

"Everyone is out there doing business process modeling work and most are beginning to realize you just can"t do an end-to-end business process, and that you have to look at it from a componentized view. It is similar to what we have talked about with the component business model, where you literally break the business down into subcomponent parts and decide what you really need to focus on as core to you business," Hilt said.

Archrival BEA Systems Inc. also expanded its SOA service offerings, which included the introduction of a free Web-based tool to measure a company"s "baseline" for pursuing an SOA strategy.

The tool, called the "Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Readiness Self-Assessment," is built around BEA"s SOA Domain Methodology. This methodology focuses on six areas of an SOA: Architecture; Building Blocks; Business Strategy & Process; Costs & Benefits; Organizations & Governance, and Projects & Applications. Users are guided through a series of questions. Feedback on factors such as company strengths is provided within 24 hours.

"The Domain model is the thing that takes SOA from hype to something you could realize," said David Groves, director of worldwide professional services at BEA. The tool "covers the six areas that you need to take (into) account," Groves said. It does not specifically recommend that participants purchase BEA products, although they would likely hear from a BEA salesperson afterward, according to BEA officials.

BEA also is expanding its SOA service offerings to focus on exploration, planning, and implementation.