NEW YORK – iWay Software has introduced a line of products it said will help companies better integrate their large-scale business processes.

SOA Middleware is a suite of enterprise integration products geared to simplifying the transition from point-to-point or hub-and-spoke architectures to a service oriented architecture.

The complexity of SOA is posing challenges for businesses, said Jake Freivald, vice-president of iWay Software. SOA Middleware, he said, will help organizations eliminate the complexity associated with SOA deployments by leveraging existing IT investments to create reusable business services.

“SOA is a change in the way business approaches IT and in the way IT approaches business,” Freivald said. “We’re talking about what has been a rat’s nest of integration and breaking it into smaller, more manageable chunks.”

According to research from Aberdeen Group, large companies will save more than US$50 billion by transitioning their organizations to SOA.

That’s because applications and automated processes will access information resources through standard service interfaces that don’t require complex programming. iWay’s balance sheet reflects Aberdeen’s findings.

Last year, the company saw its revenues increase by 150 per cent on the business-to-business supply chain side.

Gerry Cohen, president of Information Builders, iWay’s parent company, said he sees SOA as a bona fide industry trend, and not a fad that will disappear in the coming years.

“SOA is going to drive costs down, decrease the need for programming experts. The trick is to determine whether SOA is a trend or a fad. It looks like SOA is going to be the next big thing. You can clearly see what it is and what you’re going to use it for.”

Historically, there have been a number of trial-and-error attempts to integrate disparate systems within corporations, starting with enterprise resource planning systems, Freivald said.

“It took us a while to learn that centralizing systems doesn’t help the business become more agile. What we really need to do is push responsibility of the problem to people who are closest to it, and this is where SOA comes in,” he said.

Hub-and-spoke approach
Enterprise application integration, or EAI, was yet another effort to facilitate better integration of disparate corporate IT systems, but it was flawed, said John Senor, president of iWay Software.

“EAI fundamentally had the wrong picture of the world,” he said. “It was a hub-and-spoke architecture that provided only a 40 to 50 per cent solution. It failed because you had to invest more than a million dollars before you did your first transaction. SOA recognizes that the real-world processes are inherently complex.

“It adopts a software architecture that mirrors how business works.”

At its roots, SOA is about better integration at a lower cost, and Senor said that’s where iWay differentiates itself from the other players in this space. According to Nucleus Research, based in Wellesley, Mass., for every dollar spent on IBI software, users will spend another $2.10 on services, a significant saving over traditional methodologies, which typically ran a 10-to-one services-to-software ratio.

Senor said the more companies rely on a proprietary software stack, the greater the potential for rip-and-replace.

“The difference between IBI and the big platform players is that IBI is not proprietary,” said Senor.

“You can’t deploy, for example, BEA tools onto IBM’s platform. If you want IBI to run standalone, we will. If you want to use an MQ series, we’ll run on top of that.”

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