Making SOA Operational: Establishing the Link between a Service Oriented Architecture and Service Management

October 23, 2009

Making SOA Operational: Establishing the Link between a Service Oriented Architecture and Service Management

Authors: Marcia Kaufman & Judith Hurwitz

Sponsored by IBM/Tivoli

Planning for SOA Service Management from the Start

Organizations are moving to a more flexible business approach to leveraging software assets through Service Oriented Architecture. As they adopt this approach, IT executives have increased their focus on one of the primary measures of a successful implementation, establishing a consistent and predictable level of service. In order to achieve this goal, organizations recognize they need to match this new architectural approach with a consistent and comprehensive strategy for service management.


SOA is an approach to the building of applications that implements business processes as software services. These business services consist of a set of loosely coupled components, often existing IT assets or pieces of assets, assembled to support a well-defined business task. This results in flexible IT systems that allow businesses to leverage existing assets and easily accommodate the inevitable changes experienced by a dynamic business. In the process, these newly formed business services cross a number of different IT systems, effectively breaking down the organizational silos that formed around conventional IT systems.

This ability to traverse functional silos allows for the streamlining of business processes. It creates challenges, however, in managing services as they cross various IT silos, both infrastructure silos like servers, storage, and networks, databases, and application silos like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Supply Chain Management (SCM) and financial systems.

For example, the customer account manager, the product operations manager, and the supply chain manager for a consumer products manufacturer all need similar customer and product information to make business decisions. Prior to implementing a SOA, each manager often needed to use manual processes to supplement the information under their primary control with information about customers and products that was the primary responsibility of another department. Now that the CRM, ERP, and SCM applications rely on shared business services such as “update customer account address”, each of the business managers has access to consistent and accurate information about customers and products. This consistency will only be maintained moving forward if there is a clear understanding among all users of the customer and product information about the governance of these data and the associated business services. There needs to be a well-established approach to creating, changing, sharing, accessing, and paying for the business services in order to maintain clarity and consistency across the enterprise.

Many infrastructure components are required if a company expects to be able to establish a high level of consistency and reliability across the existing information silos of a business. Figure 1 provides an overview of the infrastructure and service requirements for SOA. This includes components ranging from the ability to model processes, to testing, locating, sharing, and regulating business services. A service management plan must be put in place in order to manage the complexity of this architecture and meet the expectations of the business.

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