Organizations seeking agility in their IT systems implement a service-oriented architecture. Compared to a few decades ago, systems have become more complex, and scalability is a big issue when implementing new IT infrastructure. The speed of development of release also needs to be faster than ever before. All these are reasons why service-oriented architecture has become the standard way of building world-class systems today.
To understand service-oriented architecture, consider a firm seeking to build a web-application to allow customers to order food online. They could start from scratch and build out their own mapping functionality. They would also need to build an in-house payment gateway and a login functionality. This would require having engineers who understand how these functionalities work. g
In contrast, they could decide to build a platform that integrates with the various existing services they need for their application. They could integrate Google Maps for mapping customer locations. They could use trusted payment gateways such as PayPal, Amazon Pay, or Stripe. For login verifications, they could use Facebook login.
All these are individual services the company needs for its project. They are developed in a manner that they can be used for different projects. Think of it this way. The payment system used by an online bookstore works the same way for a online pizza store. There is no need for both companies to build out their individual payment gateways when they can integrate a third-party service on their website.
An environment that enables you to tap into and integrate functionalities as services in your system is what is called a service-oriented architecture. This approach to systems development offers great benefits as outlined below.
Greater Agility for Businesses
As highlighted, SOA eliminates to build out services that have already been well built by other parties. What this means is that it takes less time to develop applications and release them into the market. This helps to quickly respond to changes and new opportunities in the market. Reducing the man-hours used up in development leads to lower development costs. The same translates to maintenance costs because the company does not own these services.
Each service in the SOA is a module on its own. This means that when the provider decides to improve or update it, it does not affect the other inter-connected services. No matter the complexity of the whole system, there will be no interruptions due to such changes.
Consistency Across Applications
The phrase code-reuse is thrown around commonly in software development. In SOA, it is the main concept behind it all. When you use the same code as a service across multiple platforms, the response or results users get is the same. Consistency creates user confidence in a service. This explains why companies are reluctant to re-invent the wheel when in need of services that customers have used on other platforms before. For instance, people are already used to Google Maps. As such, if you need map-functionality in your application today, the best better would be to integrate the Google maps API.
SOA makes it possible to look at an entire project as a sum of different independent parts. These parts can be built, maintained, and updated on their own. Therefore, it is possible to have teams assigned their own parts of the project. The teams can work simultaneously which tends to speed up projects.
Parallel development eases the testing of projects because separate tests are developed for the different capsules of the entire project. If one service is not working as expected, the company can launch the rest of the services as the team works on fixing the other.
Developers of services to be used on SOA have no idea about where or the nature of projects their applications will be used. They only understand the results that their service should provide. As such, the services are built with the ability to scale depending on user needs. A payment gateway can work for a small online store as well as for a busy e-commerce website. Besides, developers of these services are working to continually improve their application because their reputation depends on it.
The Downsides of Service Oriented Architecture
The biggest risk with reliance on SOA is the odd chance that a service will not work as expected. For instance, a payment gateway could be experiencing downtime or a security breach. Your clients will might not blame the third-party service provider but your company. In order to avoid this risk, it is best to conduct research on the reliability of any service your company chooses to integrate into its architecture.
Another downside is that it may be expensive to adapt existing infrastructure to SOA. Moving from old legacy systems to modern SOA will cost big organizations millions of dollars and months of development. However, the agility gained in the long-term will well be worth the effort.
Considerations before Implementing a Service Oriented Architecture
Despite the numerous benefits, especially in agility that SOA can bring a business, it is crucial to understand how it will affect the business. When it comes to deployment, it best to start with non-critical activities. However, they should also be areas whose impact is easy to notice. This will help people across the organization to notice the benefits of SOA. Eventually, the use can spread to heavily used business processes.
Implementing an SOA may require the change of a business’s organizational structure for best fit. It is best to have a structure built around service teams. An organization that wants to shift towards this approach must however be careful about possible conflicts arising from the change. Traditional IT managers might feel like they are ceding control to heads of business units. Instead of IT heads leading all IT matters, an SOA approach would see greater decentralization of budgets and power. IT heads should be calm because there still needs to be an overarching power to coordinate the activities of the various business units.
If your company needs help with Service Oriented Architecture solutions, check out Transcendent Software. We can help with building custom software from the designing phase to implementation and training. We will help in choosing the best technologies for your projects including which third-party solutions to include in your SOA workflow.