How Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) & Extract Transform Load (ETL) Can Improve Integrations

What is SOA?

A service-oriented architecture (SOA) refers to the interaction of software components as reusable elements through a service interface. A service-oriented architecture enables the quick integration of services into an application. SOA has origins in software development, but the concept is applicable in organizational structures and small businesses too.

For instance, when building a restaurant application, developers develop an environment where various service components can interact through common protocols. They will use a payment gateway from a third party such as PayPal, a map API from Google, a log-in service from Facebook and so on. The developers and owners of the app do not need to understand how each of these services works. They only need to understand how to interact with them. This is service abstraction. In addition, the third-party developers of the services have full control over the services. This is service autonomy.

A service-oriented architecture plays a big role in improving integrations for an organization. It creates agility, which is the ability to meet changing user needs, scale fast, and develop new functions by re-combining existing ones.

Extract, Transform, Load

Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) refers to a process of extracting, transforming, and loading data from many sources to a single repository. It cleanses and organizes data so that it is ready for analytics, reporting, or other uses. ETL is great for extracting data from legacy systems, cleansing data to enhance its quality, and establishing consistency. ETL can be contrasted with ELT. In ELT processes, the data does not undergo cleaning or transformation before going into the target database. ELT is great for handling large volumes of unstructured data and does not need a lot of prior planning for extraction and storage.

ETL needs meticulous planning. Specific data points need identification alongside techniques for integrating data from the different sources. Data sources would include emails, web pages, SQL and noSQL servers, and ERP systems. During the transformation process, data is placed in a staging area. Here, filtering, cleansing, validating, and authentication happen. Calculations, translations, summarization, and other cleaning actions can take place. Encryption and decryption can also take place now. During loading, data moves from the staging area to a data warehouse. It’s important to note that most the ETL process is automated for most organizations and takes place continuously.

Service-Oriented Architecture and Scalability

Scaling requires that the operating environment is ready to add functionalities without losing robustness or the ability to handle large amounts of traffic or transactions at the same time. An SOA environment allows services developed using different languages to run together. This increases the ability of an application to scale quickly and run across multiple platforms.

Scalability of services also improved with SOA. One service can run multiple instances of different servers simultaneously. This increases it’s scalability and availability too.

ETL and SOA Enhance Performance of BI Tools

ETL applications enable faster decision-making. Most of the data processing happens during the transformation and loading of data into the data store. Therefore, by the time business intelligence tools interact with the data, it is ready for use. There are few calculations, standardizations, or transformations required. The results will be generated faster.

ETL solutions catch operational problems in the data store before performance issues occur. By constantly monitoring data flows, the IT team is able to receive notifications when errors arise in transformation. By catching such errors before the data goes into the data store, data integrity issues reduce down the road.

ETL Enables AI and ML Applications

The ability of a business to benefit from business intelligence, machine learning, and AI-driven applications is heavily dependent on the quality of data that powers them. As earlier indicated, ETL processes require prior planning on how the data transformation and storage will occur. This planning involves applying universal formatting standards and consistent semantics. By having all data handled uniformly, it becomes easier to add AI, ML, and business intelligence applications to the business’s workflow. This makes the data that the business generates even more valuable.

SOA applications are Easy to Maintain

Each service in a SOA architecture is encapsulated and its functionality abstracted away. Third-party services are maintained and updated by the third party. This makes maintenance in the SOA environment easy. The update of one service is independent of everything else.

In addition, testing and debugging become less complicated due to service encapsulation. For instance, if the payment gateway is not working as expected, you only need to investigate that service alone. Introducing a new service cannot affect how other services work, which is how all modern apps work.

SOA Enhances Reusability

Services in an SOA can serve multiple applications through reusing. This means that you can build multiple solutions by re-organizing and re-combining already existing services. An SOA approach also reduces development costs by not attempting to recreate already existing services. The productivity of developers improves because they do not have to spend time rebuilding things. Instead, they can take up more projects around the year.

Possible Challenges with SOA and ETL

SOA and ETL require a significant upfront investment in terms of technology and human resource. This might prove to be a challenge for some businesses. Where an application has multiple services exchanging messages to perform tasks, the messages might compound into millions. These messages might become unmanageable thus affecting overall performance of the application.

If your organization is looking to improve integrations through adopting an SOA and ETL, check out Transcendent Software. We are an IT services company helping our clients get the most out of their IT infrastructure. We will help you design an enterprise service bus unlock integrations between applications. By implementing an ETL approach to data management, your data warehouse will store already cleaned-up data ready for use by business intelligence applications. To learn more on SOA and ETL contact us here.