Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Role of a SOA Platform During Mergers and Acquisitions



Mergers and Acquisitions are tricky business manoeuvres and if not done skilfully, can produce the very opposite of the synergy they try to achieve. But during certain economic climates M&As become a necessity for survival than an option. The role of IT in consolidating systems, especially when pushed by financial and management reporting requirements is crucial. Without the proper analysis or a framework in place for such consolidation, the negative effects on operations will last for years.


Is SOA the Silver Bullet?

No. Because we all know there's no such thing in the real world. But using Service Orientation does allow IT to gain control of an otherwise chaotic situation. It allows the use of a top down approach to identify critical business processes and transform them into services. A proper SOA platform will additionally fscilitate the abstraction of legacy systems into services. This simply means that irrelevant of the fact whether one company has a forward thinking IT strategy around SOA or neither doesn't, there's still hope. The challenges do not end in just abstracting services. Mapping data between two seprate entities in itself presents its own set of problems. As a simple example, one company might use 20 characters to store a customer name while the other 30. Defining how these systems talk to each other is imperative.

A forward thinking SOA platform should present solutions for most of these issues. It should have tools to utilize re-usable services while creating new ones. Tools to abstract services from legacy systems. A tool such as an ESB to facilitate messaging between all of these systems. It should also provide a Repository or a Registry along with tools for SOA Governance, which will bring in the necessary controls and quality assurance procedures to the consolidation effort while ensuring the project is been driven by business priorities and services are made taking these into consideration. Proper governance will also prevent ending up with two sets of business processes and two sets of services instead of a single unified architecture.


Who should take ownership?


Most SOA experts would agree that such an effort must be driven by a Governance Team. Since SOA governance undoubtetdly falls under IT governance, the CIO will have to take a stand and formulate direction, while creating the bridge between SOA and Corporate Governance Teams.

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