If an enterprise is willing to invest in enabling existing applications as well as developing new applications using service oriented architecture (SOA), then there has to be concrete business benefit. In this article, we explore causes behind investments in service oriented enterprises. We try to see what senior management must be visualizing when they approve budgets for SOA based applications.
Competition:Every business domain is experiencing fierce competition, hence there is tremendous pressure on IT infrastructure to support continusously changing business expectations. Business is expecting quick implementation of new ideas, so that the market can be captured before competitors are even ready. Time taken to generate an idea and realize it has to be very less. Applications invoving these business changes should also undergo transformation rapidly, and make new things available to customers. SOA introduces modularity which eases introduction of new modules without largly affecting other application stack. Thus the desired functionality can be brought to market with unit development and can be pluged in to existing functionality.
Cost Implications:Business always wants cost effective solutions. IT budgets are usually to run existing applications to continue business, and to change applications to intruduce new things. It is expected that there should be lesser and lesser expenditure in maintaining the existing applications. Also the cost of chaning existing applications as well as introducing of new functionality should be minimum. Service oriented structuring of applications introduces loose coupling, which allows changing applications without much impacting others. Loose coupling also helps in introduction of new functionality easily. In short IT is commoditized to benefit business.
Adaptivity:Loose-coupling makes applications adaptive. Applications can grow and shrink as required. Also Service oriented architecture is based on standards. This makes applications (interfacing) generic enough so that these can be integrated with each other without much effort. Also this avoids vendor locking. Any change in vendor (application server, operating system etc.) can be accomodated easily.
Operational Effectiveness:Each service in an enterprise can be treated as a separate business unit. Now we can manage these servicess individually with better effectiveness instead of managing a bunch of highly integrated functionalities in an application. This improves the operational effeciency of people supporting these services. Support team does not face complexities arising due to integrated nature of applications.
Better Control: Services are individual business units. We can monitor each of them for service related paramters such as performance, service level agreement, revenue generation, business loss etc. This can help in defining road map of a service along with business growth.
The list of business reasons can be endless. Here we have few important business drivers which impact most of the decisions. In a nutshell, we can say that SOA is needed to make IT catch up with high speed of changing business environment.