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Banking industry players seeking SOA interoperability

It is interesting to see how SOA has been moving from a way of exposing key application functions as reusable services within an enterprise to a methodology increasingly standardized across corporate lines. In industries where there is a lot of service-level communication between partners — such as in utilities and banking — organizations are emerging to standardize some of the services involved.

One such organization is the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN), which this month added pan-European banking organization UniCredit to its 23 members. BIAN works with a number of banking institutions and a few software vendors in an effort to create a framework for interoperability between large banking systems.

“BIAN is really looking at saying, is there any way we can use service-based design to help rationalize these application-to-application structures within the banks where there’s all sorts of complexity and redundancy,” said Guy Rackham, a business architect who works with BIAN.

This boils down to two main focuses: generating application-to-application service standards and developing a metamodel.

Many banks rely on large numbers of fine-grained services that tend to be domain specific, said Rackham. BIAN’s metamodel will try to organize service clusters and definitions into subdomains that can be interpreted by all of its members, he continued. The idea is to first define capabilities and then associate standardized services with them.

Presently, BIAN is working on its architectural foundations and has developed some models and designs around three main areas: payments, business partners and analytics. Rackham said interoperability around payments can be particularly troublesome because of the vast ecosystem of different services involved in the many ways that money changes hands.

Rackham said BIAN wants to make sure everything can be represented in UML, but will stay away from trying to develop any new messaging standards. Much of BIAN’s work will involve creating semantic business vocabularies, similar to the work the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) did while developing a common information model.

“We don’t want to recreate any standards or any design concepts, we want to align to that which exists and influence it where we can help fill gaps,” said Rackham. “We see ourselves mostly adding value at the semantic service definition above the more detailed message definitions – for example ISO 20022.”

BIAN’s membership includes CGI, Deutsche Bank, ING, innobis AG, Microsoft, SAP, SunGard, Standard Bank of South Africa and others.

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