Whether the goal is to unplug the mainframe or to simply reuse software assets across an organization, there are many paths to a service-oriented architecture. Organizations like University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. have SOA projects underway that illustrate the diversity of SOA deployments. At the heart of both efforts is a centralized repository for storing and documenting software assets.
For UPMC, one goal is to leverage the value of individual SOA development projects across the organization, as well as address governance issues. "We have done valuable work, but it isn't generalized in a way to use in other areas," said Duane Falk, director of the UPMC Enterprise Middleware Group. "We're moving toward SOA not only for using some of that technology to help us solve problems, but we're also trying to move toward a more reusable set of resources."
Falk said the organizations polled senior developers and architects about the best place to start. "The general consensus was to put together some asset library where people can identify, store and access code and other resources that might be reusable," he said.
UPMC is piloting a project with the Logidex metadata repository from LogicLibrary Inc. in Pittsburgh. Falk said one development group is working with an offshore developer to rebuild a program to manage medical equipment assets.
"We felt it would be advantageous to make sure at the end we had all the code and objects developed as part of that in very well-documented, central location where we could continue to work with it."
That project group is using Logidex to catalog system designs, architectures, and also any services that are developed. "Other groups, like enterprise middleware, are writing Web services and core components used in different areas, and we want to get those things in there, too," Falk said. The repository will also potentially help UPMC with regulatory compliance such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
"All our developers can utilize LogicLibrary, which is one of main goals for the pilot, to not only use for project, but to have it accessible by other groups. Even if they only have one or two services, they can get experience in documenting and publishing, and it will help us decide if we want to move forward."
Documenting and managing services is also a central theme at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, where there is a full-throttle SOA program underway that will culminate in the unplugging of the mainframe.
Starwood was formed by a series of mergers and acquisitions, the biggest of which was Sheraton.
"At the time, management made the decision to keep the Sheraton system as the main reservation system. We ended up with a legacy mainframe system based on IBM technology, with CICS and Cobol applications," said Israel del Rio, senior vice president of technology solutions and architecture at Starwood.
About three years ago, Starwood decided to move to an SOA and standardized on Linux, J2EE and IBM WebSphere, he said. "We began by developing new applications on those platforms and gradually began to offload some of the mainframe applications to open systems. And we began to deploy some XML services, but not Web services as we know them now," he said.
A year and a half ago Starwood made the final push to eliminate the mainframe, del Rio said. "Everything is around the concept of SOA," he said. And there is no porting of applications, he added. "Everything is being coded and designed from scratch via services. It's an enormous undertaking."
To manage the services the different groups are developing, Starwood deployed the Systinet Registry from Systinet Corp. in Burlington, Mass. "We've got 80% to 90% of the services defined in the registry. We will end up with a couple of hundred services," del Rio said. Starwood is using Systinet for governance and policy management and the Looking Glass product from Actional Corp. in Mountain View, Calif., for service management.
Right now the services are all bound to internal systems, del Rio said, so Starwood is not utilizing Systinet's UDDI capabilities. "But it's good to know they have it. We have plans to expose some service in a public way."
In the first quarter of 2006, Starwood will begin tying the new system in with the individual properties and then do integration testing. "Our ROI is based on being able eliminate mainframe," he said. That is targeted for the end of 2006.
For Starwood, the SOA path is the right one, but del Rio said it is a rocky road. "SOA is good idea. It's the right thing to do, but it's painfully difficult to implement. It's an ongoing learning process."