Energy Industry Puts SOA to Practical Use

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One topic that has caught my eye is how service-oriented architecture is providing the foundation for some innovative experiments in the energy and utilities industries.


The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has revealed the results of two year-long experiments that allowed homeowners to control their energy spending through smart devices and regular alerts about energy usage.


One study connected smart devices through an SOA developed by IBM software from WebSphere and T.J. Watson Research Laboratory. In that group, participants who could respond to real-time prices managed to reduce peak power use by 15 percent. I wouldn't mind saving 15 percent on my energy bill.


You can learn more about how others are applying loosely coupled architecture to utilities by attending ZapThink's Practical SOA Summit for the Energy and Utilities Industries. It will be held in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 5. The line-up doesn't seem to include anything specifically on the U.S. Department of Energy studies, but there are presentations on smart devices and the Smart Grid.


Early registration, which ends Feb. 1, is $249. After that, the cost rises $50.


Ruby for SOA. WSO2 -- a company that sells open source products for Web services and SOA -- now will offer a Ruby extension to support the Ruby and the Ruby on Rails Web framework with SOA and Web services. For those of you not familiar with Ruby, it's an open source object-oriented programming language that blends aspects of Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada and Lisp.


With the new offering, called WSF/Ruby V 1.0, Ruby developers can add the security and messaging capabilities required for SOAP-based Web services, according to InfoWorld. While WSF/Ruby will also support REST (Representational State Transfer) Web services, sources told InfoWorld that it's unlikely corporations will choose REST over SOAP at this time.


SOA and Integration for Retailers. IBM is marketing a new SOA development and integration framework for retailers. The framework is designed to help retail companies integrate customer-facing data and processes and, among other things, offers retail-specific components and templates for initiatives like product information and cross-channel selling. It's called the Retail Integration Framework and incorporates products from IBM's WebSphere, Tivoli and DB2 information management lines, according to CBR Online. This is the second integration framework IBM has offered retailers, the first being a Store Integration Framework designed to connect stores to enterprise IT. Insurers, Reinsurers Need XML Governance. If you're working for the insurance, reinsurance and related financial services industries, heads up. A new study, conducted by Gartner and a nonprofit insurance group shows insurers are risky users of XML. Problem is, insurers are deploying XML without following best practices in governance, funding or oversight. Only 42 percent of life insurers have a corporate XML strategy guiding their XML projects -- and that number is lower among P&C insurers and reinsurers. This lackadaisical attitude toward XML standards can jeopardize XML funding and vendor requirements, according to a press release about the report.


Free Reports on Talend Open Studio and EMC Corporation's Document Process Suite. If you're interested in Talend Open Studio v 2.1, an open source data integration solution, you might want to download this free 11-page analysis by Bloor Research. Though the blurb notes researcher Philip Howard wrote the report to help you "get an independent angle" on Talend, it should be noted that Talend has made the report available for free on its site. So, not surprisingly, it's a positive review for Talend. Howard calls Talend "the most enterprise-oriented of the open source data integration vendors."


Please don't take that to mean I think Howard was biased in his October 2007 report. I don't. But, you can see why Talend would want the report circulated for free. Anyway, it's a good resource if you're curious about the product, because it offers screen shots and explains what each component does.


Each month, BPTrends offers a free report on a product. This month, it's the magazine's December analysis of EMC Corporation's Documentum Process Suite, which is a business process management suite. It's written by two consultants, including BPTrends' executive editor and founder, Paul Harmon. The 21-page document doesn't offer perspective on how Documentum compares to competitors, but it does give you a detailed description of what the product does and what it offers, including screenshots.