Mr Baseline’s EAI Crash Course – Part VI

The final installment of this EAI crash course isn’t about EAI but about SOA. So what’s the connection? To be sure, EAI and SOA are not the same thing at all. In fact, they address different domains. EAI is very much a technical discipline, mostly very IT-centric, delivering the technical solution to how disparate systems should talk to each other. SOA, on the other hand is (or should be) mostly about delivering business value through a complete overhaul of the way a business is managed, where the architecting of the business is the starting point for the implementation of this architected design using IT.

This description, as many of you know, rings pretty hollow in the mundane corridors that many of us inhabit. Mostly, business management still view SOA as primarily an IT issue, and IT struggles to “deliver SOA” despite the fact that it simply can’t be fully done without extensive management commitment.

However, what can be done while we’re waiting for the rest of humanity to see the light is to start putting an SOA-enabling infrastructure in place. And this is where EAI and SOA converges, in the shape of the ESB. It turns out that a well structured, well documented ESB where the Service concept is part of the basic design patterns is an ideal foundation for SOA. There is a journey of learning to be done, where the technical aspects of designing, implementing, deploying and maintaining services can be mastered. Using Baseline, the community involved in EAI can prepare themselves technically and organizationally for SOA, so that when the business folk eventually are ready to start requiring some real business centric services, the skills and delivery capabilities are in place, and requirement realization can be swift.

We believe strongly in this approach to SOA, so much so that we formalized this in the Baseline SOA Roadmap. Its purpose is to help companies start on their SOA journey. It won’t be SOA at first, but the transition to SOA will be that much easier when the basic skill-set is in place.

The roadmap itself is pretty simple:

  1. Put an ESB in place
  2. Make sure it is designed and documented using a structured, service-centric methodology (such as Baseline)
  3. In the day-to-day EAI work, start identifying and implementing reusable services, applying appropriate design patterns
  4. Eagerly await the rest of the business to jump aboard!

We actually got inspired to do this by one of our clients who said: “We started of doing systems integration using Baseline, and when the SOA buzz arrived, we realized that, hey, we already have an SOA!” I would have to assume that they meant the SOA-enabling infrastructure – the organizational overhaul issues are squarly outside Baseline’s domain!

This post concludes the EAI crash course. If yo want to know more about Baseline, please visit our website.

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