Companies contemplating a move to a service-oriented architecture should start by forming an integration competency center (ICC), recommends Brian Burke, a research vice president at Gartner.
Such a center can serve as a forum for making the decisions your company will need to make to support a migration to an SOA approach, Burke says in a recent "Ask the Analyst" column published on the UK site, Computing.
Burke's recommendation is part of a larger answer to a reader's question about how SOA and enterprise architecture relate. "We have opted for an SOA strategy for application development, but I don't quite understand what is the relationship between SOA and enterprise architecture?" asked the reader.
First, Burke points out, the decision to move to SOA is an enterprise architecture decision. And if it's not -- if you're trying SOA as part of an isolated project or, as is more common, a new "approach to development" -- then you'll face a "high probability of failure," he adds.
The article may be too elementary for enterprise architects-but then again, given the confusion over what the title means, maybe not.
But if you're uncertain about what EAs do and what their role is in supporting SOA, you should find this short piece very helpful. In particular, he said, enterprise architects can help with services by:
Enterprise architects should also play a key role in an ICC, "providing information on the business vision and strategy, guiding principles, future state models and roadmaps, technology standards, and executive sponsorship," writes Burke.
Gartner research from 2008 found that ICCs can help organizations achieve 25 percent reuse of integration components and save 30 percent in integration application and data interface development time and costs.
Despite the fact many analysts recommend ICCs and surveys repeatedly show positive results, the integration competency center is still a much-neglected best-practice in IT. As Informatica blog reader Charles Heiser observed, "Logically, it makes all the sense in the world to establish an ICC, but when it comes time to open the wallet, few step forward."
SOA adds yet another reason to start an ICC-and not just SOA, but many other big-ticket initiatives, such as MDM and data quality, not to mention the cost drivers of being able to reuse integration tools and practices.
If you're contemplating forming an ICC, but aren't sure how to get started, here are some IT Business Edge resources you may find helpful: