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SOA Best Practice (Service Oriented Architecture)

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an approach to sharing, or integrating, data to/from different systems.

Integration is the act of bringing together smaller components into a single system that functions as one. In an IT context, integration refers to a process to stitch together different, often disparate, subsystems so that the data contained in each becomes part of a larger, more comprehensive offering that, ideally, quickly and easily shares data when needed.

To enable integration of their data, system owners often build a customized architectures, or structures of applications, to combine new or existing hardware, software, and/or communications capabilities (or services). This approach is known as Service Oriented Architecture.
 
Northwestern IT supports four types of integration options:

Custom Point-to-Point Integration

  • Definition: A direct point-to-point link is created between applications for each business function.
  • Attributes: Designed and implemented solely for the purpose of directly integrating two specific systems. Custom code for:
    • Data extraction
    • Business rule processing
    • Data loading
    • Custom data format
    • Inconsistent transmission protocol
    • Used for both real and batch integrations
  • Example: Batch job to share a set of attributes with one consumer, DB link to read data from a source system.
  • PRO:
    • No need to invest in expensive tools up front
    • No need for developers to learn new skills and packages
  • CON:
    • Not reuseable
    • Expensive to create and hard to maintain

Messaging - MQ

  • Definition: Source systems “publish” enterprise messages to a common bus; application “subscribe” to relevant messages and act on them.
  • Attributes:
    • "Wraps" each application
    • Acts as a broker between applications
    • Provides near real-time, guaranteed, once-only delivery
    • Stores and forwards messages
    • Provides an enviroment in which to define rules
  • PRO:
    • Systems are integrated but not coupled
    • Business rules are centralized in the message broker and transformation engine
    • Allows for near real-time integrations which reduced latency and allows for throttling
  • CON:
    • As the number of systems increase, the integration effort expands linearly

Web Services / SOA

  • Definition: Functionality to be integrated is exposed via SOAP or REST API’s. Other systems can consume this service if needed.
  • Attributes:
    • Common language of communication across heterogeneous systems
    • Based on standard internet technologies
    • Self-describing and advertising
    • Supports dynamic discovery & integration
    • Services fit within an overall architectural model
    • Widely supported by major vendors
    • Supports XML and JSON based web-services for cloud integration
  • PRO:
    • Solves problems similar to those EAI solves
    • No need for expensive integration tools
    • Systems are integrated but not coupled
    • Can secure at a granular level
  • CON:
    • Scalability issues as the load and amount of data increase

ETL Tools

  • Definition: A standard set of tools and processes used to extract, transform and load large volumes of data between systems. Very useful in populating a data warehouse.
  • Attributes:
    • Provides tools for data cleansing; correcting misspelling, resolving conflits (city & zip code incompatibilities), missing elements, parsing elements
    • Can combine combat data sources: Matching on key values, fuzzy matches on non-key attributes, textual comparisons to reference tables
    • De-duplicate processing: Identifying and eliminating duplicates
    • Create aggregates to boost performance of common queries in data warehouses and data marts
    • Loading and indexing: For large data warehouses, specialized bulk loading processes are required
  • Advantages:
    • Extremely efficient for moving large volumes of data in short timeframes
    • Applies consistent transformations
    • Can provide or integrate with meta-data for the enterprise data model

Northwestern IT SOA Resources

SOA Best Practice Overview

Visual graph of previous information found above.

Last Updated: 22 March 2018

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