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Growing, Selling and Re-selling SOA Services

IBM added new services to help customers integrate mixed software using service-oriented architectures .

SOAs are distributed computing architectures that enable a range of services, such as data-exchanges or a collection of Web services , to communicate with each other. They often involve melding disparate applications to work together more efficiently, by reusing software code to eliminate manual coding tasks.

Many computing experts believe SOAs help customers manage the cost of maintaining IT systems thanks to the extensibility they promote with applications, for example. IBM and rivals like HP , Microsoft , and several others use SOAs as a way to better connect customers, partners and suppliers.

Michael Liebow, vice president of Web services and SOA within IBM's global services division, said IBM has helped customers take leftover assets from prior projects, bundle them as software, and reuse the assets by selling them to other clients as services.

Liebow said the new assets comprise four services. New design services help customers plan an SOA. Implementation services help put the SOA into effect.

SOA management services help clients monitor and manage the SOA. Business enablement services show how an SOA can help customers meet business goals.

IBM's global services staff is helping businesses such as Orange and Standard Life corral their numerous services into under one manageable umbrella.

Liebow said IBM is helping Standard Life stitch together 250 of its business services, including pension quotations, direct debit authorization and fulfillment checks. Half of those services are reused, or used by more than one application. Seventy of those applications consume all of the 250 business services.

The problem is that the U.K. company's IT department hasn't grown, even while its number of services has grown 900 percent, Liebow said. IBM is using its SOA services to help Standard Life reuse the services to save cash.

"You can't go to the business and ask for a chunk of money because it's not there," Liebow said. "You have to rationalize it into a discreet set of projects that will generate a significant return within 12 months. You can either do that yourself or leverage our best practices."

IBM began offering SOA assessment services last April. This past January, the company said it would base its SOA services on a broad blueprint called Service Oriented Modeling and Architecture (SOMA). SOMA is geared to help customers tie business processes to underlying applications.