Car talk, with an SOA twist

GM's automobile-based OnStar communications platform will be SOA-enabled, soon.

One of the gee-whizzes of modern technology is the fact that we have cars that can automatically 'phone home' when trouble is detected, such as air bags inflating. Or, as you probably heard from OnStar's real-life recordings in commercials, service reps in another part of the country will remotely unlock your door if you leave your keys inside. (That really takes the endless hours of fun out of prying in and trying to reach door latches with wire coat hangers.)

Now, TechWeb's Laurie Sullivan has filed a report that OnStar is moving its technology platform to SOA. OnStar, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors Corp., is an on-board voice and event-triggered communications platform that will be a part of all GM vehicles by the end of 2007.

OnStar's approach actually began in June of last year, when the company began planning out the new SOA-based architecture. In-depth implementation details are not available, but the plan is to move the service's software business rules, now embedded in applications, to a middleware layer of reusable components. Kathy Kay, OnStar director of application development and support for OnStar, is quoted as saying that the strategy "will allow us to reuse different functions and business processes more easily. We will pull out functions to create separate processes."

The company said at least seven or eight application platforms will be moved to the SOA middleware layer, starting with Emergency Services, Vehicle Services, Business Objects and Billing.  Such applications help handle service calls and provide remote vehicle diagnostics.

Now, if only SOA could change a flat tire.

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