Behind AmazonSupply, a nuts-and-bolts service oriented architecture

AmazonSupply has an advantage over B2B e-commerce competitors because it is an SOA-enabled platform-based model, 'with interoperability at the very core of the DNA.'
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

As reported by ZDNet colleague Zack Whittaker, Amazon is expanding its retail store offerings to business and industrial clients with its new AmazonSupply online store. AmazonSupply is designed as an online retail space -- modeled after the consumer Amazon.com experience -- for businesses and industrial customers.

The online store sells over 500,00 items, including laboratory equipment such as centrifuges, materials including bronze, copper and plastic, all the way down to end pieces like nuts, bolts and screws, over a range of categories including lab and scientific, occupational health and safety, and a dozen more.

Jason Busch takes a good stab at analyzing the architectural underpinnings of AmazonSupply, noting it has an edge over B2B e-commerce competitors because it is an SOA-enabled platform-based model, "with interoperability at the very core of the DNA." As Loraine Lawson, who surfaced Jason's post, put it so well: "Boom! There it is: SOA, delivering a true strategic advantage — in the cloud, no less — in a way that could literally lead to lost business for Amazon’s new competitors."

This may provide for tight integration with customers' purchasing systems. Jason makes the following observation about how SOA makes the difference in such an online service:

"The advantage of a platform-based model based on true service-oriented architecture (SOA) is difficult to overstate. As we previously wrote, such platforms can enable interoperability that allows for capabilities, content and related activity to be consumed by other systems, suites and tools, creating worlds where data integration is replaced by true information coordination and orchestration... A lack of a SOA model is the reason one of the best-known vendors in the sector has had such a challenging time with anything-but-vanilla external systems and data integrations across its SaaS/cloud-based products, not to mention making its latest SaaS enhancements available in the supposedly same code base for CD customers."

SOA -- emphasis on the A, for architecture, gets right to the core of business processes, enabling the building of services meant for integration with both internal and external applications. Another B2B service vendor, Rearden Commerce, which provides a B2B cloud-based platform for corporate expense management (deem@work), understood that right from the get-go, when launched in 2005, that building its business on SOA-enabled components would enable close integration with business end-user and partner sites.

It all makes for an industrial-strength SOA.

(Photo: Wikipedia.)

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