So, Ah...What About the Data?

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Every few months, I run across some post or article noting that SOA is great for application integration, but pondering how it can relate to data integration. The question is, can data be service-enabled in the same way SOA service-enables processes and functions?


This week, Joe McKendrick visits the issue on the heels of an ebizQ webcast he moderated. He writes that the webcast covered:

"an emerging approach, called data services, which ties into service oriented architecture (SOA) and creates a data abstraction layer that addresses the complexities seen across enterprise data environments."

I'm horrible about attending webinars -- I forget or am just too busy -- so I'm always grateful for a summary, transcript or a recast. And I'm particularly happy McKendrick decided to summarize this webcast, because it covers a widespread problem. You just don't see much about it.


What fascinates me about this is that I've seen some information about SOA and data integration and data services. I remember well over a year ago, David Linthicum shared how he'd studied data integration technology for an upcoming book and found problems with coupling the two. And I've seen occasional other references to data services and SOA, but it always seems theoretical.


During the webcast, McKendrick spoke with Ash Parikh, principal product marketing manager for Informatica. Parikh explains why this is an ongoing problem; he also discusses how he thinks it can be addressed. Step one: Pursue delivery of data services. Okay, no duh. The problem is you have to find a way to ensure the data services are delivering a consistent view of the data. (On a side note, some have suggested master data management, or MDM, could be the tool for making sure the data is consistent and clean for SOA.)


That's when Parikh gets into the more valuable information.


Technically, Parikh said, data service must be modular, reusable and leverage established technology standards. McKendrick quotes him as saying a data service:

"...enables access integration to right time data throughout the enterprise and across corporate firewalls. Data services create an abstraction layer to all analytical, operational information, and serves it up to other abstraction layers, which could be an [enterprise service bus]."

McKendrick's piece suggests to me something is finally shaking loose in the ongoing challenge of data services and SOA. I plan to go back and listen to the webcast, despite my aversion to anything resembling a PowerPoint slide.


In the meantime, I'd love to hear from anyone with more information on data integration, data services and SOA.