Ten examples of SOA at work, right now

Where SOA already made a difference in 2005.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

1 To manage a world of data: An SOA-focused deployment is helping the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to streamline access to its mounds of data, as well as link users of the data to the services they need to process the data.
2 To manage workflows: A BPEL-based workflow system was employed at State Children's Health Insurance Program to manage the nine-step application process that determines and responds to applicants' eligibility.
3 To consolidate services: Harvard Medical School and its hospital affiliates radically streamlined their business processes around the sharing of medical data by building an SOA involving about 25 categories of Web services shared between 400 different departments with 14,000 employees. Seattle's 17-hospital Providence Health System is leveraging Web services to link its in-house legacy systems into a single patient portal, permitting online bill paying among other services.
4 To improve customer service: Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide is replacing its legacy room-reservation system with an SOA-based one, going live with as many as 150 service-based applications built on Web standards.
5 For more effective partnerships: T-Mobile is employing SOA for both internal integration and reuse, as well as the external, partner- and revenue-generating elements. This approach enables T-Mobile to work effectively with third-party content providers such as Time Warner and the Bertelsmann Group to deliver services to customers.
6 To trim costs: Verizon Communications claims it averages about 2.5 million to three million Web services transactions a day through a "home-grown" SOA. The system went operational in 2004 and Verizon says it has slashed its IT budget by 50% by eliminating redundant systems inherited from the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE. The SOA also helped integrate the operations of some 7,000 developers.

7 To increase speed to market: Owens & Minor, a distributor of medical and surgical supplies, has embarked on a four-year SOA initiative, and forecasts annual savings of $650,000, half attributable to better inventory accuracy and half to productivity savings and improved cash flow. Leveraging SOA and BPM, the company can now automate processes in a few weeks that once would have taken as much as nine months.
8 For strategic differentiation: Fireman's Fund is relying on SOA to consolidate 70% of its technology applications. By more effectively aligning business with IT and strengthening its relationship with agents, Fireman's Fund believes it can strategically differentiate itself in a crowded property and casualty marketplace.
9 To increase agility: Motorola has introduced 180 services through its SOA framework and business activity monitoring projects (monitoring the linkages between enterprise software apps), and has an average of 50 rules, covering everything from credit card transactions to warranty services.

10 To loosely couple businesses: Mohan Sawhney, professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, says the best-run companies may not be producers themselves, but networks of producers, orchestrated by a front-end broker of services. Some mobile phone companies already "don't do anything themselves, they just collect the money."

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