Dr. Halamka is also engaged in building a very significant service-oriented architecture at Harvard Medical and its hospital affiliates, as I learned in a recent interview for an article I'm working on. The institution now has about 25 categories of Web services that are shared between 400 different departments with 14,000 employees. The services cover a range of functions, from patient lookups to doctor lookups to employee lookups.
Biggest SOA benefit: A dramatic streamlining of Harvard's processes. "We?re starting to see really radical redesigns of business processes in the organization. We use Web services to transparently share medical data that used to require faxing, phone calls, and email, and have been able to reduce our medical records costs by $1 million a year, simply because we?re not using paper anymore."
Biggest SOA challenge: "Change management. You want to deploy a service, you want to well-document a service, you want to make sure it's stable and reliable, and integrate it into your various processes, and that requires a fundamental change in architecture. I describe this to people as the problem of changing the wings on a 747 while it?s in flight. I?m going to put up the Web service, I?m going to evolve the Web service, but I can?t disrupt production applications at all."