The year 2010 was definitely the year for rolling up sleeves and making this service oriented architecture stuff work as it was intended.
There was also a lot of convergence with cloud, and in many cases, SOA's new mission has become that of the foundation for cloud efforts, public and private. There has also been plenty of convergence with virtualization, event processing and business process management -- SOA has a supporting role in all, even though it may not be mentioned. But service orientation is there.
Here are some examples of SOA at work, surfaced over the past 12 months:
To deliver services outside the firewall to new markets: First Citizens Bank not only provides services to its own customers, but also to about 20 other institutions, including check imaging, check processing, outsourced customer service, and "bank in a box" for getting community-sized bank everything they need to be up and running. Underneath these services is an SOA-enabled mainframe operation.
To provide real-time analysis of business events: Through real-time analysis, OfficeMax is able to order out-of-stock items from the point of sale, employ predictive monitoring of core business processes such as order fulfillment, and conduct real-time analysis of business transactions, to quickly measure and track product affinity, hot sellers, proactive inventory response, price error checks, and cross-channel analysis.
To streamline the business: Whitney National Bank in New Orleans built a winning SOA formula that helped the bank attain measurable results on a number of fronts, including cost savings, integration, and more impactful IT operations. Metrics and progress are tracked month to month -- not a "fire-and-forget business case."
To speed time to market: This may be the only remaining competitive advantage available to large enterprises, said the CIOs of Wal-Mart, Best Buy and McDonald’s.
To improve federal government operations: The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued guidelines intended to help government agencies achieve enterprise transformation through enterprise architecture. The guidelines and conclusions offer a strong business case for commercial businesses also seeking to achieve greater agility and market strength through shared IT services. As GAO explains it, effective use of an enterprise architecture achieves a wide range of benefits.
To improve state and local government operations: The money isn’t there to advance new initiatives, but state governments may have other tools at their disposal to drive new innovations — through shared IT service. Along these lines, a new study released by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), TechAmerica and Grant Thornton, says well-managed and focused IT initiatives may help pick up the slack where spending is being cut back.
To improve healthcare delivery: If there’s any sector of the economy that desperately needs good information technology, that’s the healthcare sector — subject to a dizzying array of government mandates, fighting cost overruns at every corner, and trying to keep up with the latest developments in care and protocols.
To support online business offerings: Thomson Reuters, a provider of business intelligence information for businesses and professionals, maintains a stable of 4,000 services that it makes available to outside customers. For example, one such service, Thomson ONE Analytics, delivers a broad and deep range of financial content to Thomson Reuters clientele. Truly an example of SOA supporting the cloud.
To virtualize history: Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, implementing a virtualized, tiered storage pool to manage its information and content.
To defend the universe: US Air Force space administrator announced that new space-based situational awareness systems will be deployed on service oriented architecture-based infrastructure.