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SOA Makes for Faster Enterprise-Class Development

Capitalizing on two of the hottest IT topics for 2005 according to Gartner–SOA and open-source software–Skyway Software is shipping a version of its SOA platform for the open-source Linux operating system. Dubbed Skyway SOA, the platform was designed from the ground up for SOA to build, govern and deploy business solutions, processes and services, according to company officials.

British American Tobacco, worth $45 billion, wanted to move from a traditional approach to integration and application development to more of a leading-edge SOA across its global operating company of 86,000 employees.

Responsible for BAT’s global application infrastructure strategy, Kevin Poulter, applications technology manager, established the company’s SOA vision, which has involved replacing approximately 7,000 Lotus Domino applications. The company also used various Java development tools and relied on message-oriented middleware for application integration.

The ease of use, short learning curve and speed of development lured BAT to Skyway’s platform, Poulter notes. What really convinced the company, though, “was that our investigations [into the product] proved to us that we could develop enterprise-class SOA applications faster and cheaper than we were building applications at the lower end of the scale with Lotus Domino,” he acknowledges.

SOA, he continues, has provided BAT with an architectural model around which to plan the evolution of its application infrastructure. “By applying SOA technology and principles to a couple of key areas–application development and application integration–we have been able to provide practical evidence that we can deliver business value faster and at lower cost,” he explains.

“Most importantly,” Poulter adds, Skyway’s platform “lets our developers easily transition to SOA without having to grapple with the complexities of the underlying technologies and standards.”

The product’s portability to Linux is an added feature, making the platform more affordable for BAT in certain countries where it conducts business. “Making Skyway available on Linux lowers the cost of entry by cutting infrastructure costs,” Poulter explains.

Poulter advises organizations considering a move to an SOA platform to develop an architectural vision and to stick with it. “The SOA product and technology space is crowded and confusing, so you need a frame of reference in order to understand where things fit within your own organization’s SOA roadmap,” he encourages.

He further recommends taking an incremental approach to implementing that vision. “Find sweet spots in your organization,” he suggests, “where you can demonstrate value without large investment upfront. This is exactly what we have done with application development and integration.”

About the Author

Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at freelancewriter@gates-works.com.

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