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NetManage: SOA needs to dig deeper into legacy

NetManage says its new SOA Planner captures data on which legacy applications are used for what and how often in the enterprise, to help provide a first step service-oriented blueprint.

NetManage, Inc. this week is introducing an automated planning tool, which the software vendor says automatically captures enterprise application usage patterns to provide architects with reality-based data as the basis for incremental SOA implementation. In conjunction with the planning tool, the company also unveiled a four-step strategy for incremental implementation of SOA using legacy applications.

When was the last time you talked to a company that was building a green field SOA implementation? The answer is probably never.
Jason Bloomberg
Senior AnalystZapThink LLC

NetManage SOA Planner is a new tool from the software company transitioning from a green screen terminal emulation business in the early '90s to providing SOA tools, including its OnWeb tool for creating Web services from CICS and other mainframe applications.

SOA Planner is installed on an enterprise network and automatically gathers data on which applications are used for what and how often in the enterprise, to help provide a first step service-oriented blueprint, said Archie Roboostoff, NetManage's director of product management. With this usage information, architects and business analysts have real world metrics for planning SOA implementation and thus helps save them from making assumptions about application usage that may come back to haunt them if their guesswork is incorrect, he said.

"It gets SOA planning off the white board," Roboostoff said, explaining that the data on application usage from SOA Planner can then be used in conjunction with the OnWeb tools to prototype a service-oriented approach using legacy applications.

Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC, said the new tool allows architects to target services projects at the spots where they can deliver the most business value.

"The SOA Planner is specifically SOA-focused, in that it helps organizations determine which legacy capabilities are best suited for service enablement. The challenge of prioritizing such services is a common sticking point for many organizations and the SOA Planner helps them implement the 80/20 rule of thumb, which states that 20 percent of the functionality of a system is used 80 percent of the time, with the remainder more for special cases. Targeting the heavily used 20 percent for service enablement provides the greatest business value and the greatest reuse."

Bloomberg said NetManage has successfully moved into the SOA world with its new tool and four-step plan for SOA implementation starting with the high usage services.

"NetManage is one of the first to come up with a straightforward tool for determining where those 20 percent are," the analyst said.

As outlined by Roboostoff, the four-step "Incremental SOA" strategy using his company's SOA Planner and OnWeb tools, appears to follow another business school rule of thumb: keep it simple stupid.

The NetManage executive said the four steps are:

  • Step-1: Plan uses for the data gathered from the SOA Planner. Roboostoff said that based on work with its customers, mostly in the insurance, financial and healthcare industries, "NetManage has found that successful implementations start as project-based roll-outs that are thoroughly planned and non-invasively use the end user's day to day work to identify what transactions should be targeted for service enablement." With the usage data, it is easier to get agreement among IT professionals, architects, developers and business analysts, on what applications should be service enabled, he said.
  • Step-2: Build is where the planners start incrementally with a prototype. As Roboostoff explained the applications identified in the first step can be published as services using OnWeb to create a prototype. The prototype is then tested. Modifications are made based on testing and end user feedback and finally it is deployed as a service in the initial SOA implementation.
  • Step-3: Evolve, which is essentially the on-going modification of the service as business needs change.
  • Step-4: Scale is the incremental step forward where a service being used successful by one department can be expanded for use throughout the enterprise.
For more information
Key concepts inside SOA

SOA governance defined

Asked if the NetManage four-step plan was best suited for bringing legacy applications into the SOA world, Bloomberg said, "If you think about it, that's a trick question, since all SOA implementations leverage legacy. When was the last time you talked to a company that was building a green field SOA implementation? The answer is probably never. After all, legacy means whatever works and the main indicator for SOA is a heterogeneous, legacy-rich, environment. So yes, NetManage's four step plan is best for SOA that leverages legacy, but yes, the four step plan is also quite broadly applicable to most SOA implementations overall as well."

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