British American Tobacco -- which operates in 180 countries and manufactures Dunhill, Pall Mall and Lucky Strike cigarette brands -- is leading the pack in the SOA world.
With 64 Enterprise Resource Planning platforms worldwide (with as many as 2,000 applications on some of them), the company was desperate to bring some senseto itsIT infrastructure. Ultimately, the company decided to embrace an SOA approach as a cost-effective way of integrating systems, applications and business units.
"The existing infrastructure was costly and slow to implement," says Kevin Poulter, BAT's application technology manager. "Our business was demanding further integration and we could only achieve this with significant additional investment. We needed a vision to act as a focus for our future integration strategy, and with web technologies moving to the top of most vendors agendas, SOA presented itself as the emerging marketplace technology."
According to Infoconomy, the company has devised an architectural perspective based on three layers: Business Systems based on Java, XML and EAI; Business Services, which bringstogether process management, SOA and activity monitoring; andBusiness Interaction, which incorporates BAT's portals,B2B services andmanaged business networks.
Having created a supply chain dashboard as a proof-of-concept, Poulter's team has now won the support of the corporate IT governance council and is rolling out its SOA plan. One of the first initiatives was anEnterprise Service Registry in Hamburg,which isvisible to users worldwide. "Users can request items such as policy updates from anywhere around the globe," says Polter, "and the documents, once received, can be cached locally."
Now, the company is focused on new ways of applying SOA principles to development projects."This will apply to local applications in addition to those at enterprise level," says Poulter. "The true benefits of SOA will only emerge when we shift focus away from technology architecture to business architecture. Once we have, new business processes will evolve and will be supported in a more agile way."