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IT Strategic Initiative: Service Oriented Architecture


The purpose of this project is to implement a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) that includes services, services infrastructure, governance processes, and several important tenets of design supporting communication between two computer systems. A service, in this case, is a piece of software that enables one system to perform a unit of work on behalf of another system. Some common service functions are:

Service interactions are organized and managed by an infrastructure layer comprised of three parts:

  1. Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) that acts as a switchboard, passing providing services from one system to the consuming services of another
  2. Message Broker that can notify a subscribing system of changes to data which may prompt the subscribing system to request those changes
  3. The Web Services Registry (WSR) that acts as a catalog of available services, and which can enforce workflow rules for requesting access to services

While this infrastructure layer is a key component of SOA, it should not be mistaken for SOA itself. 


The University has many different commercial off-the-shelf and custom-built transactional systems that have expanded in number and functionality over the years. These systems add great value and will continue to play a critical role at Northwestern. However, they are ultimately “niche” solutions, designed to run as self-contained systems isolated from one another. Implementing a SOA framework is intended to foster unification and integration across the various University systems and functional areas to improve administrative performance across schools and departments.

Goals and Objectives


Last Updated: 20 December 2018

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