Qualcomm Successfully Cuts Down on Integration Work and Costs


One of the more confusing debates about service-oriented architecture is when an implementation is enterprise application integration or actually a SOA.

I was reminded of this old debate while reading this recent CIO article, "How One Company Broke Down Silos and Improved Application Integration." It recounts how wireless telecom, Qualcomm, used SOA to eliminate enterprise IT silos and much of the point-to-point integration the required.

Qualcomm is pretty darn pleased with its SOA implementation, which started back in 2001. At the time, its business was hampered by the siloed IT architecture. The article gives examples of some of the crazy problems this caused, like, for instance, its employees had to extract data from the ERP system three times and send it to three different systems. They also couldn't add or delete features to remote wireless devices in real time, which was something of an annoyance, since it meant customers might have features for which they had never paid.

Qualcomm's director of enterprise architecture, Steve Polaski, explained the impact of the integration problems to CIO.com:

We saw a lot of our IT budget being consumed handling integration. Some of our core systems had dozens, even hundreds, of integration points. It was a challenge to keep track of them all and was a big expenditure and was slowing us down.
Five years later and one globally-deployed SOA later, everything's much improved at Qualcomm, according to the article. The company reports it's freed up a half-million dollars of integration costs out of its IT budget - annually. It's also easier to deploy SaaS solutions and, here's the good news for the business: The company can now handle real-time provisioning, so you can add features to a wireless device in five seconds, rather than the three hours it previously took.

So far, the article looks like a great SOA success story, and then I see this:
We were thinking about the space -- then known as EAI (enterprise application integration) -- and services, back in 2001. We knew back then that this was the future, the way to go. ...
Interesting. So, if I'm to understand this, Qualcomm actually started out doing EAI and then it evolved toward SOA. How does that happen?

IT Business Edge reader and IT pro Mark Griffin, responding to June post about integration and SOA, explained the relationship between SOA and EAI this way:
The concepts behind the patterns of EAI are very similar to SOA. Abstraction, reuse, composability, fine grain, coarse grain are all there in EAI just like SOA. Integrations are, in effect, services if done correctly -- not just moving data around, which is a common EAI misnomer. It's not the latest and greatest buzzword, so a lot of analyst are glossing over the actual details of what EAI was and is.
I'd love to see what others say about Qualcomm's SOA success story. Is this SOA -- or EAI 2.0?

Maybe you care, maybe you don't. Whatever you call it, it's a great integration and IT success story.