Integrative IT planning and portfolio management - part 6

Alfabet and the SOA repository: Plan, design and run SOA infrastructures with a closed-loop process

In this series of articles, we look at how to derive synergies among IT management tools when planning and managing the IT landscape. In particular, we discuss how Alfabet for enterprise architecture and IT planning and portfolio management best works with other tools to provide optimal support for your business and IT transformation efforts.

Issue 1, 2017 Download PDF

End-to-end service lifecycle governance from planning to execution

Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) has enabled IT to make great strides in being recognized as a services provider for business. Many IT organizations have understood the value of structuring business processes into service portfolios and bundling technologies accordingly, making business processes more streamlined and flexible. And structuring the business architecture for reusability has allowed IT to be faster in service delivery.

Enterprise Architecture (EA)-based IT planning plays a significant role for SOA, supporting many of the requirements for services planning and management by providing:

  • A single, central repository that contains all planning-relevant information on all architecture artifacts as a comprehensive information base for effective IT planning
     
  • Thorough examination of requests for change to the architecture to eliminate redundant efforts and avoid negative impact to other system areas
     
  • Strict adherence to standards and guidelines to ensure progress towards the IT architecture vision
     
  • Transparent and measurable IT/business relationship issues to assess IT support for the business
     
  • An architecture roadmap defining the incremental steps on the way to the desired target architecture
     
  • A collaborative process for cooperative planning and implementation

A catalyst for EA improvements

SOA has also been a catalyst for improvements in EA, causing EA teams to intensify their focus on issues such as:

  • Understanding the business better and identifying the truly mission critical business processes
     
  • Improved IT/business alignment by advocating an EA approach to SOA, which anchors business into the IT landscape
     
  • Strategic IT planning involving an evolutionary process with a vision and intermediary steps to get there

SOA has also driven EA teams to strengthen discipline in areas such as:

  • Implementing strict governance processes and standards in order to enforce service reuse, avoid service duplication and secure required service qualities
     
  • Maintaining a transparent, documented architecture—despite the large number of EA elements needed to be handled—in order to identify potential for service reuse and perform thorough impact analysis

EA as interpreter

In the metamorphosis of “service” as a nebulous mode of behavior into “service” as a precise digital transactional computation, EA planning has taken over as the logical interpreter between business and technology. The EA group has understood its responsibility in unifying the enterprise under the SOA umbrella as the reuse and reusability of services can only be guaranteed if an enterprise-wide SOA strategy is followed mandating an integrated, collaborative EA planning process.

EA and SOA tools have come to form a kind of symbiotic relationship with each other. EA and IT planning and portfolio management tools such as Alfabet depend on SOA tools to be the SOA registry and repository for design and runtime governance for services. SOA tools depend on tools like Alfabet to govern the service portfolio creation process. Together they can provide end-to-end service lifecycle management.

SOA and Alfabet—a symbiotic relationship

In Alfabet, service requests go through a rigorous demand-to-budget process with thorough examination of service requests regarding alignment with corporate, business and IT goals and strategy as well as redundant requests and impact to the organization’s risk exposure.

New services and extensions to existing ones are planned in the context of a project proposal including responsibilities, roles, business case, etc. Upon approval, the business service is committed to Alfabet’s repository and becomes part of the baseline architecture.

Technical services are handed over to the SOA repository, which is responsible for design, implementation, testing, deployment and tracking of SOA services. It hands over information on service status, usage and performance information to Alfabet.

Service performance information helps identify bottlenecks and risk areas then address those during forthcoming planning and portfolio management. Data can also be aggregated at the business process level and used to identify strengths and weaknesses in IT support for business processes. 

Figure 1: Alfabet and the SOA repository each have a role to play in the planning and provision of services.

By using Alfabet together with an SOA repository, a company has:

  • A business architecture that is structured for reusability
  • An enterprise-wide uniform service classification
  • Identification of services that are important to the enterprise
  • Identification of deficiencies in the current service implementation
  • A governed process for creation of services
  • Centralized service creation and maintenance
  • Service performance information for optimizing the service portfolio

Alfabet supports SOA registries such as Software AG’s CentraSite.

Conclusion

This is the end of the series on integrative IT planning and portfolio management. We hope you’ve found these articles of value. You can find a summary of the articles in the form of a white paper here.