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Business-Driven SOA

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SOA Consortium started 2010 by releasing a new whitepaper - Business Architecture: The Missing Link between Business Strategy and Enterprise Architecture.

The white paper defines "business-driven SOA" as a combination of the following:

  • Creating a portfolio of services that represent capabilities offered by, or required of, your organization. Those capabilities may represent business, information, or technology concepts.
  • Composing or orchestrating those services along with events, rules and policies into business processes and solutions that fulfill business scenarios.
  • Working towards a business outcome. That "business outcome" could be cost and complexity reduction via a rationalized IT portfolio. In other words, "business-driven" doesn’t require a business person tapping you on the shoulder, it means executing for business reasons.

According to the whitepaper, a prerequisite for creating business-driven SOA is the creation of the business architecture - a "formal representation and active management of business design"


The whitepaper explains that:

The relationship between business architecture and information technology is two-fold. First, business architecture is a critical input to IT planning, technology architecture and business solution delivery. Second, technology trends and IT capabilities influence business design choices in the realms of capabilities, value chains, processes, and channels... The interdependencies of business architecture and information technology call for collaborative practices and organizational models. This connection is best structured as a true enterprise architecture practice, one that gives equal emphasis to business and technology concerns.

According to the whitepaper, many of the current business architecture approaches are focusing on the prerequisite to IT-based business solution delivery - business processes and business uses cases.

However, this is not sufficient. To reap the benefits of business architecture - business visibility and agility - the business architecture must reflect the entire business design, from the point of view of business designers and owners, rather than IT solution delivery.

The whitepaper suggests treating business architecture as a formalized collection of practices, information and tools for business professionals to assess and implement business design, and business change.

  • Business architecture must encompass the entire business design, from the business designers’ and owners’ points of view. This point of view begins with business motivations, includes key business execution elements - such as operating model, capabilities, value chains, processes, and organizational models - and transcends information technology representations, such as business services, rules, events and information models.
  • Business architecture is formally represented via a variety of artifacts, including business motivation models, capability maps, value chain maps, process models, policy documents, organization charts, and product catalogs.
  • For ease of accessibility, the business architecture artifacts should be managed in a repository.

The whitepaper defines business architecture as a mechanism for defining how strategy, processes, business structure and staff can be best utilized to deliver reliable and cost effective operations.

Technology enablement is key to the majority of new functions and services. Business architecture helps organizations define the technology requirements and capabilities clearly, yielding IT plans and projects that align with business priorities and goals.

Additionally, the whitepaper provides some actionable information on how an organization can approach the task of creating the business architecture and the place business architecture should take in the enterprise. It also describes business architecture in action - practical steps that an enterprise can follow to create, leverage and improve its business architecture.

Finally, the whitepaper discusses the relationship between business architecture and several critical business and technology constructs, including business-IT alignment, business process management (BPM), service-oriented architecture (SOA) and business solution delivery.

Whether we like it or not, at the moment there is a huge disconnect between business and IT. Any attempts to use SOA/BPM approaches for improving the way we are building IT applications might make their implementation more cost effective, but will do very little for changing the status quo. On another hand - using business architecture to directly align IT capabilities with enterprise business functionality provides a path for establishing significantly better cooperation between business and IT. Such alignment was an initial SOA promise ( and still continues to be one of the main SOA drivers), so it seems that creating/improving the business architecture should be a significant part of the SOA.

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