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IBM commits further to SOA with new management practice

IBM announced last week the creation of a new SOA Management Practice that will handle Web services and SOA management for its customers.

If enterprises are looking for validation that service-oriented architecture has staying power, they may need look no further than IBM's announcement late last week that has formed an SOA Management Practice.


IBM can likely boast the largest SOA talent poll in the world.

"They have been building this practice for the last year, and based upon the expertise they have built and the track record with customers they have achieved, they are now expecting to generate more than $100 million from SOA engagements in 2005," said ZapThink LLC senior analyst Jason Bloomberg. "This goal is more than just wishful thinking on their part, but is based on the trend with customers to date."

IBM's Michael Liebow said Big Blue sent its service professionals to boot camp to learn the ins and outs of SOA implementation.

"Boot camp is where our folks learn the theory of what's required, then deploy it in engagements to learn the practice of what is necessary," Liebow said. "As the market scales, we are going to have to bring on additional staff."

Backed by 35,000 trained SOA specialists worldwide, IBM said it wants to help companies move beyond departmental deployments to enterprise-wide SOA use.

"This news is significant because it is an indication that 2005 will be the year that large enterprises scale their SOA initiatives up -- if not generally to enterprise-wide implementations, then at least to substantial cross-departmental projects," said ZapThink LLC senior analyst Jason Bloomberg in an e-mail to "So we're no longer talking about SOA adoption -- we're talking about scaling SOA now."

Management services will include security, monitoring, performance, business performance management, integration brokers, catalog support and extensibility, IBM said.

IBM also named Web services management and security firm Digital Evolution Inc. and its Tivoli systems management division as partners in the practice.

"We are trying to address clients' requirements in the best way now that enterprises are scaling up to full deployment," said Michael Liebow, IBM vice president of Web services in its Global Services division.

Liebow said a management practice was the next logical step for IBM, which opened its SOA Design Centers in May. The centers concentrate on compiling a set of SOA best practices that could be filtered back into the development of IBM products and services.

"Every organization is looking at how, when and where to do this, and leverage the business side of the enterprise with this," Liebow said. "SOA is not just an IT driven initiative. It's a fusion of business and IT."

SOA is a design principle where applications are broken down into components that can be reused across a network or via the Internet, and are accessible via Web services. The benefits are generally a reduction in development time and costs, and a standardization of IT.

Management, meanwhile, is the next frontier for enterprises has they grow their stable of Web services from a few to many, and begin sharing them with customers, partners and the supply chain.

"Management is usually an afterthought," Liebow said. "But once you realize that you have more than one Web service deployed in production, you have to wonder how you're going to deliver the quality of service and a level of service that is required."

The SOA Management Practice offers security services that concentrate on authentication and authorization for users and developers accessing data via an SOA. Monitoring services will manage service capacity, thresholds, faults, errors and other conditions that could hamper processing. Related is performance management which monitors throughput and capacity and collects data for service level agreement reporting.

With regard to linking business and IT, IBM is offering business performance management services that monitor transactions in an SOA, as well as functions within a business process.

Integration services will also be central to the management practice. The integration broker service manages service prioritization, failover, load balancing, routing, XML transformation, scheduling and metering as it relates to billing.

There is also a catalog support service, which manages the discovery of Web services from a registry.

An extensibility service is the final offering, which includes development tools, software development kits that assist with integration with external systems and support for J2EE, .NET and other programming platforms.

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