Every time I've asked SOA players to give some Indian success stories, I've
received responses like they're still in the process of finalizing. Whether
there are any major success stories or not doesn't matter. What does matter is
that SOA is an interesting concept and completely different from the usual way
of deploying applications.
One aspect of it is to build apps around existing ones, which don't
necessarily have to be your own. You could use someone else's app, provided that
company has exposed it as a web service.
For example, FedEx the logistics company has exposed many parts of its
applications as web services. One of them is the tracking service, which let's
one view tracking information of inbound, outbound, or third party shipments. If
you deal with FedEx regularly, then you could consume this service and integrate
it with your own application. Suppose you're a manufacturing company that
imports raw materials for your production via FedEx. If your shipment
information from FedEx can directly be imported in your application, then it
could help streamline your production cycles. Similarly, if your company can
also expose parts of its apps as web services, then your customers, partners,
and suppliers can integrate them with their apps.
SOA is not limited to integrating external applications alone. Organizations
can also use it for integrating their internal applications as well. In fact,
SOA is meant to make enterprise application integration easier. However, in
order for SOA's potential to be realized, it's important that companies also
share web services with others and create an eco-system around it.
The million dollar question therefore is, where do you start? For one, start
by analyzing what kind of information your customers, suppliers, or partners
require from you on a regular basis. How much of that information has to be
pulled out from your enterprise applications? For instance, would it help if you
exposed your inventory status as a web service to your suppliers? They could
integrate it into their own application and know when to supply the raw
materials to you. Likewise, look at other web services to publish and also check
whether your partners can also do the same.
These are only a few broad points I've covered on SOA, hoping to get
the message across. It requires a different kind of thinking, both from the
technical as well as business sides. Our cover story this time is about web
services and SOA. We've also broken it up into two parts. The first part
explains what it is along with some real live examples. In the second part,
we've actually gone ahead and published some web services on various platforms.
After all, the proof of the pudding lies in eating it. Try them out yourself and
see if your organization benefits. Maybe this could be the start of your journey