HP opens three new SOA centers

Company hopes to quell skepticism by letting customers tinkle with service-oriented architecture in new competency facilities.
Written by Aaron Tan, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Hewlett-Packard (HP) has added three new facilities as part of a US$500 million-investment to deliver service-oriented architecture (SOA) technology to enterprise customers.

Located in California, Singapore and Bangalore, India, the HP SOA Competency Centers allow HP customers and partners to pilot and evaluate SOA technologies. The centers also showcase HP's capabilities in IT architecture, management, security and governance, according to the vendor.

The company currently has two other similar centers in Sophia Antipolis, France, and Tokyo, Japan. Both centers see about 100 customer visits per month, according to Uday Kumaraswami, vice president at HP Services' consulting and integration technology solutions group in Asia-Pacific and Japan.

"Customers can have a chance to experience HP's technology first-hand with executive briefings and discovery workshops that link business with IT," Kumaraswami told ZDNet Asia last week.

In recent years, the IT industry has been touting the benefits of SOA--essentially a methodology that uses open standards such as Web services, to build more flexible IT infrastructures that respond more quickly to changing business needs.

The SOA landscape, however, is now dotted with several market players such as Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and BEA Systems.

According to market researcher Gartner, at least 65 percent of large enterprise organizations will have more than 35 percent of their application portfolios SOA-based by 2010, up from fewer than 5 percent of organizations in 2005.

However, in a report released early this year, Gartner noted that building a business application environment as broad and as deep as existing ones is not possible--unless businesses want to be in the software industry.

Applications such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) will continue to be closely-linked with existing data structures and business processes, and it will not be easy to break them down into service components--the basic essence of SOA.

To address such issues, Kumaraswami said HP is working with its partners to make tightly-coupled systems more flexible--though, this is easier said that done.

"In our experience, it depends on how the systems were architected in the first place," he said. "It literally means modernizing the application and moving into the brave new world of SOA."

Kumaraswami acknowledged that many businesses are still skeptical about SOA, but added that HP hopes to quell that sentiment by taking customers through the different stages of SOA deployment.

"It's important that we do not go in with a big bang approach. At each stage, they're seeing the proof points, and are becoming less [skeptical]," he said.

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