Global Teams Look to Service-Oriented Architecture

November 9, 2007

3 Min Read
Global Teams Look to Service-Oriented Architecture

A standards-based Internet software architecture may be ready to make a widespread move from the financial world to engineering, where it could enable technical project teams to communicate more securely with vendors and collaborators around the world, say experts.

Known as service-oriented architecture (SOA), the new software scheme could serve as the foundation for standards-based networks, or Intranets, that would provide firewalls, access authorization and other secure measures for electronics manufacturers who are launching new teams in China and India. The technology, already popular in the financial and health care sectors, may be at the perfect point for adoption by the engineering world, experts say.

“Now that other industries have built layers of standards and now that service-oriented architecture has become real, we are looking at how engineering and manufacturing can benefit from it,” says Vijay Srinivasan, a chief standards and solutions officer for IBM and an adjunct professor of engineering at Columbia University.

Srinivasan says billions of dollars have already been invested in the creation of standards and middleware, as well as in the construction of layers of the SOA software architecture. The architecture currently incorporates layers for transport, messaging, description and discovery, quality of service and workflow, he says

IBM, which makes middleware for use with SOA, has already used it when carrying out projects with aerospace and automotive companies in North America and Europe, as well as with a European tire manufacturer. The networks created with SOA have enabled IBM engineers to work with scores of vendors and collaborators who frequently enter and exit the projects.

Srinivasan says a standards-based architecture is more effective than proprietary networks, particularly in such broad-based projects, because it shortens the learning curve and eliminates the instabilities, time losses and data losses that typify proprietary efforts.

“If your engineering teams are co-located, then SOA is not useful to you,” Srinivasan says. “But as is the case with IBM, where our designers are in the U.S. and many of our suppliers are in the (Far) East, many companies have partners that are spread globally. Those partners can come and go very fast and you need a very fast and robust network to communicate with them.”

Srinivasan believes recent efforts in business applications are setting the stage for the use of SOA in engineering. “SOA (software) is emerging, along with middleware and standards,” he says. “It's like a perfect storm; everything is converging toward the use of this architecture.”

Service-oriented architecture incorporates the security and workflow layers needed for creation of a standards-based engineering network.

Sign up for the Design News Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like