RealTime IT News

More 'Fabric' With Your SOA?

Call it a kind of best-of-breed approach to building rich applications: Take one useful part of this application, good parts of another, and build a super composite that zips across the Web. Then use it again.

IBM, however, explains its latest service oriented architecture (SOA) products and service offerings a bit differently. The tech bellwether's global business services division just launched what it calls new, industry-focused software and services that help customers in key verticals build applications geared for the Internet age.

That means applications that can pull just the right amount of data -- or scale up for more functions when necessary.

The new products are a mix of consulting and software packages that range from basic process review to wholesale database changes in order to deploy SOA-based applications. They come in the form of "fabrics" -- parts of the best applications in order to build composite applications for a service oriented architecture .

The process of extending applications so that they're platform-independent and can traverse the Internet is swiftly taking hold across every industrialized region of the globe. For example, Japan, where many businesses run custom-built and home-grown applications, is seen as a growth area for helping businesses extend the capabilities of those applications.

Manoj Saxena, vice president of global solutions and asset management for IBM's global business services division, said they are primarily geared for the information-intensive insurance, health care, banking and telecommunications industries.

The services, he explained, are designed to help identify a client's performance against business processes in an industry and then compare that performance to industry averages.

From there, IBM helps build a plan designed to increase a client's business performance. "This may or may not include an SOA implementation, or [just] a pure assessment," Saxena told InternetNews.com.

Whatever the client decides, it starts with what IBM calls a Globally Integrated Enterprise Assessment -- a diagnostic overview tailored to help customers understand where in their organizations they might supply an SOA and how they might go about delivering that service. Generally, it starts with a look at how their databases are architectured and what needs an upgrade.

In that regard, IBM is more than happy to suggest products, such as its WebSphere process server and business monitor, or its WebSphere registry and repository, plus some tools for modeling that development. It might also include Tivoli systems management.

"We're going to help them optimize whatever they have on their plates," Saxena said.

The new products are actually a result of IBM's 2006 purchase of Saxena's company, Webify, based in Austin, Texas, which specializes in software and services for insurance and health care companies.

The goal with many engagements, Saxena said, is to help a customer move a specific piece of data across the network, instead of the usual approach of heavy lifting an entire boxful of data just to get key data where they're supposed to be.

Some of the specialized packages are geared for sectors where information is often highly fragmented. They include: IBM Banking Payments Content Pack for WebSphere Business Services Fabric; IBM Telecom Operations Content Pack for WebSphere Business Services Fabric; IBM Healthcare Payor Content Pack for WebSphere Business Services Fabric and IBM Insurance Property & Casualty Content Pack for WebSphere Business Services Fabric