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Enterprise Architecture and Technology August 12, 2012

Posted by Sapna Sumanth in Enterprise Architecture.
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The only constant in business is change, but the velocity of that change is increasing. Business cycles continue to shrink, from years to months, placing enormous pressure on both business units and the Information Technology (IT) organization. Adding to this pressure is the fact that these two communities historically “speak different languages” and are infrequently synchronized in their intent or their methods [10] In the basic terms enterprise means an organization and enterprise architecture means the structure or the blue print of the organization. The structure describes the mission, values, the technologies, processes, people, information, underlying IT systems, applications and operations. Through Enterprise architecture, complex IT systems can be managed well by addressing to the current and the future needs and also helps in achieving a balance between the business and the IT sides of an organization. It’s highly important in delivering real business values. People play an important role in any organization. There must always exist collaboration, harmony & integrity. Selecting right people for different job roles is important. As Garter defines it ”The scope of the enterprise architecture includes the people, processes, information and technology of the enterprise, and their relationships to one another and to the external environment.”

Enterprise Service Oriented Architecture is an IT architecture that enables delivering information on demand. The primary structure of an SOA is a set of services as opposed to subsystems or components. The business drives these sets of services and exposes it to customers, partners and other portions of the organization. [1] SOA is essentially about bridging the gap between the business and the IT through well defined, business aligned services, developed by subscribing to established design principles, frameworks, patterns and methods. The objectives of EA and SOA are quite similar. However EA is a framework that covers all dimensions of IT architecture for the enterprise, while SOA provides an architectural strategy that uses the concept of service as the underlying business-IT alignment entity. The key concepts of SOA include – Service provider, Service registry and Service consumer [2]

Service provider: Provides services based on a pre-defined service contract that guarantees a minimum service level, which may include performance, reliability and usage cost.

Service Consumer: Consumes a service or an assembly of services to deliver a particular business process.

Service Registry: Holds the descriptions and contracts associated with the services available for consumption.

The Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) is a standard defined by the Object Management Group (OMG) that enables software components written in multiple computer languages and running on multiple computers to work together [3] SOA enables the creation of an adaptable EA that uses a set of different types of platforms and implements capabilities as reconfigurable loosely coupled services. The ideas behind service oriented architecture are not new – attempts for distributed computing gave been made before. The object Management group’s Common Object Request Broker architecture (CORBA) defined specifications that enabled vendor independent architecture and infrastructure for applications to work together over networks (OMG 2008) [4]

Today, CORBA is extremely feature-rich, supporting numerous programming languages, operating systems, and a diverse range of capabilities—such as transactions, security, Naming and Trading services, messaging and publish-subscribe services—that are essential for many enterprise-level applications. Many newer middleware technologies claim to be superior to CORBA but actually have to do a lot of “catching up” just to match some of the capabilities that CORBA has had for a long time. With such an impressive list of benefits, it is little wonder that CORBA is being used successfully in many industries, including aerospace, consulting, education, e-commerce, finance, government, health-care, human resources, insurance, ISVs, manufacturing, military, petrochemical, publishing, real estate, research, retail, telecommunications, and utilities. CORBA is used in everything from billing systems and multi-media news delivery to airport runway illumination, aircraft radio control and the Hubble space telescope. Most of the world’s telephone systems, as well as the truly mission-critical systems operated by the worlds biggest banks, are built on CORBA [5]

An enterprise service bus (ESB) is a software architecture model used for designing and implementing the interaction and communication between mutually interacting software applications in Service Oriented Architecture. As a software architecture model for distributed computing it is a specialty variant of the more general client server software architecture model and promotes strictly asynchronous message oriented design for communication and interaction between applications. Its primary use is in Enterprise Application Integration of heterogeneous and complex landscapes [7]

ESB provides the key higher level services that are required in order to effectively implement Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) including management and monitoring, security, service orchestration, support for both asynchronous messaging and request-reply, and adapters for a variety of packaged applications and technology platforms. The ESB should be used whenever feasible to mediate communications between service providers and service consumers. The ESB selected at NIH is TIBCO BusinessWorks. The ESB provides a number of higher-level services that facilitate service reuse and event-driven architecture:

  • Both message-based and request-reply communications
  • Rule-based routing of messages
  • Security
  • Management and monitoring
  • Process orchestration
  • Message transformation

The ESB provides adapters for a variety of technology platforms including J2EE, .NET, and relational databases. These are described in detail in the Integration Adapters brick [6]

Data architecture in Information Technology is composed of models, policies, rules or standards that govern which data is collected, and how it is stored, arranged, integrated, and put to use in data systems and in organizations. A Data Architecture is often the design of data for use in defining the target state and the subsequent planning needed to achieve the target state. It is usually one of several architecture domains that form the pillars of an enterprise architecture or solution architecture [9] An EDA enables organizational change because it organizes data around the enterprise’s data subjects. Such organization permits multiple application systems to use the shared data resource. An EDA pulls together, validates, cleanses and integrates data from disparate source application systems, providing the end-user community with an integrated view of enterprise data. As a result, operational departments can access the data for strategic and tactical decision support, day-to-day operations and general reporting. With enterprise data modeling, it creates a robust enterprise data model and populates the enterprise-level databases, the DBMS (database management system) software provides the capabilities necessary to share data across the enterprise. The DBMS not only ensures that there will be data integrity, security, concurrency and high enterprise-level database availability, but it also provides fault-tolerant backup and recovery, performance monitoring and system management capabilities [8]

Web Services are becoming the form most used for implementing an SOA. A Web Service is a software system designed to support interoperable machine-to machine interaction over a network. It has an interface described in a machine-process-able format (specifically WSDL). Other systems interact with the Web service in a manner prescribed by its description using SOAP messages, typically conveyed using HTTP with an XML serialization in conjunction with other Web-related standards [12].  Web services that perform useful task would often exhibit the following properties:

1. Discoverable: One of the critical requirements for a web-service is to provide service to other users. So it has to be discovered and accessed by consumers (human users or other Web services).

2. Communicable: This is often asynchronous messaging as opposed to synchronous messaging.

3. Conversational: A conversation involves sending and receiving documents in a context. This involves complex interactions between Web services and entails multiple steps of communication that are related to each other.

4. Secure and Manageable: Security, manageability, availability, and fault  tolerance are critical for a commercial web-service.

Organizations face an increasing challenge to integrate existing technology investments with evolving applications architectures. The introduction of web services as a solution to a diverse platform environment, the use of XML as an integration tool among disparate applications, and the expansion of EAI tool-sets to help form new integration layers all are topics of deeper consideration for an organization seeking to build a flexible and scalable Enterprise Architecture [10]

References:

[1] http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/webservices/library/ws-soa-enterprise1/index.html

[2] http://www.infosys.com/consulting/soa-services/white-papers/Documents/SOA-link-EA-SOLA.pdf

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Object_Request_Broker_Architecture

[4] http://dspace.cc.tut.fi/dpub/bitstream/handle/123456789/151/perko.pdf?sequence=1

[5] http://www.ciaranmchale.com/corba-explained-simply/benefits-of-corba.html

[6] https://enterprisearchitecture.nih.gov/Pages/EnterpriseServiceBusPattern.aspx

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_service_bus

[8] http://www.information-management.com/issues/20040101/7910-1.html

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_architecture

[10] http://www.liquidhub.com/docs/Horizons-EntArch.pdf

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