We began exploring Web services, with which an application could
expose its functionality to the external world. This sounded good,
but how is it managed? Would application functionality be exposed,
creating a free-for-all? Integrations must make sense. What data does
one application need from another? For example, shipping needs to
know when an order is created and expected. Manufacturing needs to
know when an order comes in and whether shipping has enough products
to meet the order. We identified these factors as integration points.
With our SOAs, we began creating the "brain matter" that could manage
and contain the neurons that allow information to synapse all over
the enterprise. Each neuron is a different system that communicates
with other neurons through Web services. Currently, companies that
want to harmonize their IT applications create a giant neuron by
purchasing the all-encompassing ERP. Their reasoning is that if you
can't buy applications that can talk to each other, buy one big
application that does it all.
Stop replacing and start leveraging
The major problem with mergers and acquisitions is integrating
everyone's information to leverage the strengths of both companies.
Quite often, I have walked into subsidiaries that behaved very
independently from the parent company, because both companies had
completely different systems and no one could figure out how to
inexpensively integrate or replace their software with the parent
SOA allows companies to leverage each member's existing technologies
rather than replace them. SOAs using Web services are noninvasive.
After the SOA has been put into place, the company with the SOA can
explain to other companies how to plug in. The parent company can
plug into the subsidiary to obtain its information and vice versa. A
company can use the SOA to enable B2B transactions.>>
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