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White Paper SOA  the iCore way

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iCore Solutions AB

White Paper – SOA

Table of Contents Executive summary...............................................................................................................................1 What is SOA? ........................................................................................................................................2 What can SOA do for your enterprise?..............................................................................................2 Does it mean any financial returns?...................................................................................................3 Can we get it tomorrow?....................................................................................................................3 SOA thinking.........................................................................................................................................4 The end of an era of monolithic systems? .........................................................................................4 The concept of reuse ..........................................................................................................................4 Black-box building blocks .................................................................................................................5 Loosely coupled services ...................................................................................................................5 SOA Components..................................................................................................................................5 The Enterprise Service Bus................................................................................................................5 Adapters.............................................................................................................................................6 What do you gain by implementing SOA? .........................................................................................7 What makes us different? ....................................................................................................................7 iCore Solutions in 30 seconds...............................................................................................................8

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iCore Integration Suite


iCore Solutions AB

White Paper – SOA

Executive summary TechTarget IT encyclopedia defines SOA as follows: “A service-oriented architecture (SOA) is the underlying structure supporting communications between services. SOA defines how two computing entities, such as programs, interact in such a way as to enable one entity to perform a unit of work on behalf of another entity. Service interactions are defined using a description language. Each interaction is self-contained and loosely coupled, so that each interaction is independent of any other interaction. “ (www.whatis.com part of the TechTarget Network of IT Enterprise Web Sites) In reality this means that  

SOA is for building business applications. SOA is not intended for building every kind of software. It is intended explicitly for building business applications. SOA is a black-box component architecture. When possible, SOA hides the complexity behind. The black box enables you to reuse existing business applications by adding adapters to them - no matter how they were built. SOA components are loosely coupled. The term “loosely coupled” refers to how two components interact within a SOA. One component passes data to another component and makes a request. The second component carries out the request and, if necessary, passes data back to the first one. The emphasis is on simplicity and autonomy. Each component offers a small range of simple services to other components. A set of loosely coupled components does the same work that used to be done inside tightly structured applications, but the components can be combined and recombined in multitude of ways. This makes the overall IT infrastructure much more flexible. SOA components are linked together to deliver a well-defined level of service. In a SOA, components are arranged so that they provide complex business services that are consistent with the way the business operates. The whole architecture is directly based on the requirements of the business processes.

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iCore Solutions AB

White Paper – SOA

What is SOA? What can SOA do for your enterprise? Implementing SOA enables you to build and deploy IT systems that directly serve the goals of your business. The idea is to adapt the IT-systems to the business needs, instead of the other way around. Today, flexibility and the ability to adapt are features that determine the competitiveness of an enterprise. A SOA enables your business to keep its focus on business and allows your IT systems to constantly develop in an ever changing world. With SOA, business and IT processes are integrated into a framework that uses and enhances the capacity of existing systems, allowing easy and quick changes following the demands of business. Basically, your enterprise has demands of business services and it has a number of different IT tools to fulfil them. No single tool can provide all services – some of them are very good at providing certain services while other systems can perform other services well. The key words in SOA are:     

Loosely coupled Distributed Business process Services Reuse

This means that the demands of the business will determine what the IT systems are to do. With a traditional IT architecture the business usually has to accept the limitations of the individual systems. In SOA, systems are loosely coupled with one another and allow services to be reused where they are needed. The systems will be like a hidden toolbox providing the exact services required.

Example of traditional architecture

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Example of same systems in SOA architecture

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White Paper – SOA

This sounds, of course, as if you will have to purchase and install a number of new IT systems, but this is where the clever bit comes in; SOA is based on your already existing IT resources. It actually enables you to use old legacy systems not only to a greater extent, but also much more efficiently. New composite applications are built with modern development tools “on top” of your existing applications. This means a simpler development process, in which composite applications are loosely connected to existing applications and infrastructure; making it easier to switch and replace old applications when the timing is right.

Does it mean any financial returns? SOA is not only about using your applications in a smarter and more cost-effective way; there are also other things to gain. The core benefits of SOA are:   

The capacity to combine services into new, composite applications. The use of loosely coupled services through a standard interface. The increase of reuse within the architecture.

SOA does not guarantee any direct financial gains. Nor does it mean that all your concerns and worries will disappear. What it does give you though, is more technical freedom and business flexibility. And this, of course will always benefit profitability of your enterprise. SOA not only makes your business more agile, it also makes your IT systems more reliable, manageable and sustainable. Maybe most important of all, SOA will connect business and IT in a true way.

Can we get it tomorrow? No, you can’t! Everyone who knows a bit about SOA will tell you that SOA is a journey. It cannot be fully implemented in one go. It takes time, but is worth the effort. SOA does not mean that you implement a completely new system and discard all the old ones. It cannot be stressed enough that SOA is about reuse – about structuring your already existing IT systems in a better way. SOA will take time and should be implemented incrementally. It cannot and should not be built in too big steps. However, by taking the first step towards SOA now, you will also reap the first benefits of SOA today.

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White Paper – SOA

SOA thinking The end of an era of monolithic systems? There was a time when giant ERP systems were seen as the efficient solution to the needs of business processes. Many people, however, mean that just like the dinosaurs the monolithic ERP systems are simply too inflexible to survive when the environment changes. Today, enterprises are characterized by speed, globalization, mergers & acquisitions, outsourcing and virtual cooperation. This puts a whole range of new demands on your IT systems. The ERP’s are often huge, complex systems, designed with an IT architecture that cannot cope with the demands of today’s fast-changing business life. Roll-out is expensive and, when the ERP system is fully implemented, process flows are usually hard to change. As processes are standardized in these monolithic systems, it is your real business processes that have to adapt to the IT system, instead of the other way around. So a giant ERP solution fits badly in SOA. SOA thinking means small, specialized solutions perfectly accommodated to the demands of the business processes.

The concept of reuse One of the main ideas behinds SOA is that you should not throw away what you already have. All those legacy systems that you use may be old and have limited functionality, but they hold much data and offer many useful services. So, the idea is to take the best things from your current software assets and repackage them in the most useful way. And the most useful way means so that you can use them effectively, and then reuse them in other ways – again and again and again… At first, this new way of structuring your IT systems may require a concentrated effort. The first steps towards SOA are usually much more demanding than the subsequent ones. After a while, the organisation will have got used to a new way of thinking. Planning and creating new business services will then become natural part of the enterprise development process. The concept of reuse is also connected to the concept of standards. By using industry standard interfaces your organisation will have a greater freedom to adapt to the constantly changing demands of customers, partners and other business associates. To achieve this without doing any hard-coding in your legacy system, you will need to use “adapters”. The adapters will enable your systems to follow the industry standard. They work just like the adapters you use in order to plug in your electric appliances when travelling abroad. Once the Adapter is configured the “translation” is automatic.

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White Paper – SOA

Black-box building blocks With SOA you build applications that implement business processes or services by using a set of loosely coupled black-box components arranged to deliver a well defined level of service. Some of these components may be available in your existing IT environment, whereas others need to be built from scratch. Existing application components are made available through adapters. In this way they are treated as intelligent black boxes and can be used to build business services.

Loosely coupled services In SOA, services are developed so that they can be joined together on demand to create composite services, regardless of the system technologies used, or, just as swiftly, be disassembled into their functional components. The integration interfaces have minimal assumptions between the sending and receiving parties. This means that there is no risk that a change in one application will affect the other application, regardless of their interaction.

SOA Components The Enterprise Service Bus An Enterprise Service Bus, ESB, is an application that gives access to other applications and services. Its main task is to be the messaging and integration backbone of an enterprise. For many experts, the ESB is central in SOA.

An Enterprise Service Bus acting as integration bus or broker. The services are blackboxes, accessed only through Adapters.

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White Paper – SOA

How do the major vendors define ESB?

Every vendor company has its own way of defining an ESB. Here are some samples: 

IBM "ESB is an evolutional progression that unifies message oriented, event driven and service oriented approaches for integrating applications and service." Oracle “ESB is a multi-protocol fabric to separate integration concerns from applications and business logic." Microsoft "An ESB provides applications with a uniform set of mechanisms for naming, discovery, message routing, publish and subscribe eventing, message transformations, workflows, and so on." Sonic Software "A standards-based integration backbone, combining messaging, Web services, transformation, and intelligent routing."

Adapters Without adapters – no SOA! Adapters are the devices that make it all happen; they make it possible for the components in the different applications to speak to one another and exchange services and data. However, the components spend little time speaking directly with one another. The exchange goes through a service broker, which uses the registry of the receiving application in order to connect the two components. By using the registry to search and locate the component, the actual interaction between the two is kept to minimum. This indeed makes the services loosely coupled.

To keep services loosely coupled, all logic is located in the ESB.

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iCore Solutions AB

White Paper – SOA

What do you gain by implementing SOA? With SOA and a SOA way of thinking, business managers and IT will form a joint venture. As opposed to many other new “business and IT solutions”, SOA allows you to reuse your current applications, instead of scrapping them and starting the tiresome process of implementing a whole new set of applications. SOA will help to align business and IT. It will integrate existing assets and create new functionality by combining services from different assets. SOA extends the reach of existing applications in streamlined processes and composite applications. So how does it affect the organisation? Who needs to do what?  

Together, the IT organization and the business managers outline a high-level map of the business that is consistent with the way the business operates. The IT organization creates a flexible structure that will use services in existing IT systems. The utilization of these services will be organised so that they will not be affected by any organisational or business process changes. To extend functionality and usability, services are also combined into composite application, which will perform specific functions in accordance with the business process demands. To guarantee future flexibility and changeability, the IT organization will use only accepted industry standards to link software assets together.

What makes us different? So why choose iCore Solutions to start building a Service Oriented Architecture? Or why choose iCore to continue already launched SOA initiatives? What can we offer that others can’t? 

At iCore Solutions, developers as well as technical consultants, have a profound technical know-how, not only of general concepts like integration, architecture and the actual products involved, but also of real-life integration of various ERP-systems. Furthermore, we have a wide experience of implementing process oriented technical solutions. The key is often to understand the demands of the business – to be familiar with the requirements and processes in your line of business. We do not propose to be experts in all business areas, but some of them we have come to know fairly well after almost two decades of implementing business integration solutions. SOA, integration, e-business – that is what we do every day. It is our core business, not a sideline or a temporary trend. It is our business concept! We have been around for a while and have seen integration trends and buzz words come and go. The SOA principles are sound; that is why we promote them. While buzz words will fly for a while and then disappear into oblivion, sound thinking will always last. We focus on results and step-by-step integration. Rome was not built in one day, and neither is SOA. We do not want anyone to start with a huge initial investment. We propose that you start with a proof-of-concept. Your investment is low, but allows you to quickly assess the result and evaluate the effects. Short projects with high enterprise values yield a high ROI – which is a must in today’s business life.

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iCore Solutions AB

White Paper – SOA

iCore Solutions in 30 seconds iCore Solutions provide products and knowledge for business integration. We develop, market and implement the business integration software suite – iCore Integration Suite. iCore Solutions s a privately held company experienced in e-business and application integration. iCore Integration Suite is our 5th generation software, which is now installed at more than 1 000 companies in more than 20 countries. We distribute our products through a network of professional partners - with proven integration know-how! iCore Adapters constitute our major and strategic product line. iCore Solutions provide adapters for several ERP and business applications, particularly within the small and medium sized business segment. We deliver adapters and complementing solutions to several market players within business integration and SOA. iCore Solutions is a strategic, advanced level ISV (Independent Software Vendor) partner to IBM, acting as an Adapter Factory and complementing the IBM WebSphere Business Integration solutions. We are also an Oracle partner complementing Oracle Fusion, and have a Microsoft partnership.

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iCore The Soa way  

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