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IBM's SOA Service Sets Up Shop

UPDATED: Picking up where it left off in 2004 with its distributed computing plans, IBM introduced a new service to help companies build and deploy service-oriented architectures (SOA) .

The new Service Oriented Modeling and Architecture (SOMA) is a methodology to help businesses implement an SOA, or distributed computing plan, that can tie business processes to underlying applications through services.

SOAs, which often use Web services to conduct transactions, are becoming popular among companies that want to re-use code and other assets in order to cut costs and deliver more efficient business processes via the Internet.

The end goal of an SOA is to help customers integrate information and applications among customers, partners and suppliers. IBM's SOMA also aims to grant businesses greater visibility into their business processes. As part of SOMA, IBM's component business modeling group is looking to help companies figure out which business processes provide strategic differentiation over competitors.

Clients who lack the wherewithal to scale up rapidly can use SOMA to expand their businesses, IBM said, citing a survey of CEOs that said growth is now the top priority, eclipsing cost cutting.

"With SOMA and the associated work on SOA best practices, IBM is putting techniques into place that promise to bridge the gap between business and IT better than they ever have before," said ZapThink analyst Jason Bloomberg. "We're also quite impressed with the clarity and detail of SOMA.

SOMA is another example of how IBM is trying to propel its more than two-year-old on-demand strategy through tailored services and blueprints for customers.

While many of IBM's on-demand promises have manifested as products to date, the company has increasingly shown an interest in putting its large global services unit to the test. To help this endeavor, IBM Tuesday said it would acquire Corio to flesh out its application services offerings.

SOAs gathered momentum last year in the wake of extended Web services support. IBM, Microsoft and BEA Systems arguably led the way with products and standards facilitation.

But analysts believe vendors are ready to usher in the next wave of distributed computing: SOA services. This is because as more and more SOA-based products get put into place, customers want vendors to help them implement them so they can maximize their value.

While IBM is considered among the leaders in SOA mind share, it has also been first to the table regarding services. Last spring, the Armonk, N.Y. company announced SOA design centers in Austin, Texas, Beijing, Delhi and Hursley, U.K.

The facilities came a month after the company unveiled its first SOA-centric product and services.

BEA also plans to announce SOA services soon, while Microsoft occasionally offers a glimpse of its SOA plan, a core piece of which is its nascent Indigo messaging product.



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