IBM claims that its latest software and services offering will help customers reuse parts of their IT systems and combine them in what the company calls a service-oriented architecture (SOA).
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In an SOA, software elements and business processes alike are broken down into standardised building blocks, allowing them to be recombined in new ways with a minimum of effort.
"It's about treating business processes and the IT infrastructure you have to run them as standardised components that can be reused and combined for different processes," said Michael Kiess, a spokesman for IBM's software group in Europe.
With IBM's new WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation software, customers can begin building applications within an SOA bit by bit.
"This product facilitates business flexibility by building modular architecture," Kiess said. "It's a framework that supports our vision of service-oriented architecture."
Business Integration Server Foundation can be used to turn existing web services and packaged applications into reusable services, IBM said. The software includes native support for Business Process Execution Language, a formal way of describing how information moves through a business.
"This product is one of the first that can do this," Kiess claimed.
For customers unfamiliar with the SOA concept, IBM is also introducing a number of new services.
The Assessments for Services Oriented Architectures service, offered by IBM's Global Services (IGS) division, will help customers starting out on this path to evaluate functional and technical aspects of their plans.
IGS will assess whether the proposed design breaks up services in an appropriate way, and whether the infrastructure can deliver the required quality of service.
Another IGS offering, Strategy Planning for Service Oriented Architectures, takes client objectives and builds a map of business services to identify which ones can be incorporated into a services-oriented architecture. Customers end up with a reference model for how the services will work together, and a plan for how to make the transition from their existing architecture.
Data caught in legacy systems will not be ignored: With Application Renovation and Integration for Services Oriented Architectures, IGS will help customers assess the value of exposing legacy data to the SOA and linking it to other business processes. If this is deemed worthwhile, IBM will help customers restructure their legacy applications to do the job.
Another service, proposed jointly by IBM Research and IBM Business Consulting Services, will let customers measure the performance of different areas of their business to direct their efforts most efficiently. Component Business Modelling uses the SOA model to break the business down into elements which can be changed and improved quickly.
Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service