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A more modular EA August 12, 2012

Posted by Jiaqi Wu in Enterprise Architecture.
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Technology has become an integral part of every business. Its benefits are significant to any business. However its benefits also vary by the degree by which it is implemented to work for the business. Designing the IT and other technology infrastructure for a business is known as Enterprise Architecture (EA). An effective EA implies technology that is aligned with business goals and processes.

Service oriented architecture (SOA) is the modern approach to business IT organization. As software projects become larger, a more strict and organized approach is required in order to maintain software. SOA and web services are different methods of providing a platform on which applications can be developed. In both these methods, services are loosely coupled components of which are individually maintained. Combining multiple services together, applications can be developed in order to utilize common functionality while reducing repeated code.

The benefits of SOA to a business are vast. In terms of business organization, software components are bundled into services. SOA operates on the principle of loosely coupled services. Since services are loosely coupled, they can operate in any compatible SOA environment. This allows businesses to share services and also allows services to be traded. By using modular services, much less software code needs to be repeated thereby reducing the overall amount of necessary code to write.

One implementation of SOA is web services. In SOA, services must have a form of communication in order to be utilized by an application. In web services, this communication between services is through standard internet protocols used for the web. Because of this form of communication, data is usually transferred as HTML, XML or other plain text languages. This is advantageous in that the communication protocol is widely compatible as the web has largely adopted this form of communication. However plaintext communication occupies much more overhead in data transfer compared to services which communicate using other frameworks in a more enclosed network environment.

The Object Management Group (OMG) is a consortium which defines standards for software modeling. One of its standards is the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA). It allows any CORBA application on any type of computer, operating system, and programming language to interact with other CORBA applications [1]. There are numerous benefits to this from an EA perspective. Mainly, it is a matter of allowing software integration. The more integrated a company’s IT can be, the better streamlined its workflow. In addition, CORBA can be used to enable service oriented architecture by allowing communication across a wide variety of software applications in a flexible manner. SOA requires a communication protocol in order to allow services to communicate and utilize features. Since services are also considered independent and loosely coupled, a good advantage that CORBA enables is that services can be written in different platforms using different programming languages.

Another technology that can be used to mediate communication between services in an SOA is the enterprise service bus (ESB). ESB is a software design model used to mediate the interaction between software applications [3]. Operating through many layers of software, the overview of this technology is to allow applications on different platforms to communicate. This is similar to what CORBA enables. This technology is beneficial in that it is highly scalable and flexible. Many ESB suites are now utilizing OSGi which allows for dynamic loading and unloading of components [2]. This enables the ESB suite to be patched with zero downtime [3]. A downside of ESB suites is that they also contain a lot of overhead [2].

Data warehousing is a method by which all data in an organization is stored in what is perceived as a central repository. All of the operational departments in the organization access their data through a single database interface. This interface then organizes the data into data marts [5][6]. All of these operations occur behind the scenes of the data warehouse implementation. The benefit of this is that it can easily be incorporated in SOA. By creating a single Data warehousing service, all operational applications can be developed using this single data warehouse service to access data.

As EA becomes more sophisticated, we slowly discover that SOA is a modular and organized approach to implementing it. An increasing number of frameworks are being developed which center around allowing diverse components to interact with each other. By allowing this communication, software components are much easier to maintain and systems are much more scalable.

References

[1]    CORBA Basics. Object Management Group. Internet http://www.omg.org/gettingstarted/corbafaq.htm/ Accessed on 10 August 2012.

[2]    Hype Cycle for Application Infrastructure 2012. Gartner Reports. Internet http://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=260&mode=2&PageID=3460702&resId=2091716&ref=QuickSearch&sthkw=enterprise+service+bus Accessed on 10 August 2012.

[3]    Enterprise service bus. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Internet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_service_bus Accessed on 10 August 2012.

[4]    Beyer, Mark. Information Management in the 21st Century. Gartner Reports. Internet http://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=260&mode=2&PageID=3460702&docCode=215806&ref=docDisplay Accessed on 10 August 2012.

[5]    Data warehouse. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Internet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_warehousing Accessed on 10 August 2012.

[6]    Beyer, Mark. Edjlali, Roxane. Understanding the Logical Data Warehouse: The Emerging Practice. Gartner Reports. Internet http://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=260&mode=2&PageID=3460702&resId=2057915&ref=QuickSearch&sthkw=data+warehouse Accessed on 10 August 2012.

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