Testing times for SOA tools as aid to collaboration

Expertise isn't the only thing that distinguishes the players involved in creating a service-oriented architecture (SOA).


Location, too, is a factor, said Chris Brown, a senior IT architect in the retail and channel technologies group at US banking group, Wachovia.

"It increases the need for conformance and for people to have checkpoints along the way," he said.

Wachovia's retail banking division is using Mindreef's SOAPscope Server, which gives the SOA team hosted tools for testing the quality of web services and ensuring conformance with technical and business rules.

Traditionally IT and business users - architects, developers, testers and business analysts - whose roles and skill sets differ, would have separate tools and quality-testing methods. Now they have something in common.

For example, three teams are responsible for parts of Wachovia's mainframe environment running IBM's WebSphere application server. A platform team, a WebSphere application code team and the services team in charge of the live applications running on WebSphere z/OS. Each uses SOAPscope Server in a different way.

"They're all looking for different things," he said. "It's a three-headed dragon on purpose, but they all understand what the other ones' responsibilities are. There's lot of coordination that has to go on there."

Initially Brown used the Mindreef tool set for functional and quality testing. Today his teams also are using it to make sure services conform to the bank's established contract policies.

And he can make sure the most far-flung contributors - such as outsourced development teams in India - have access as well.

Smoothing the outsourcing process

"I can export the rules out of Mindreef," he said. "If I have an outsourced development team, I can hand them the rules, which they can use and not be connected to our network. It's kind of a portable rule set."

The process of building an SOA for Wachovia's retail division has helped the bank determine how it wants to tackle systems integration in the future, as well as set a strategy for breaking-up systems into services.

It has also helped distinct IT teams learn more about how each one works. "We understand the dependencies a little clearer," Brown said.

SOA efforts also have opened up communications between the IT and business: "With SOA, because we're talking about services and discrete functionality, we're seeing an increased collaboration opportunity between business and IT. SOA is an entree for us to talk to the business more and more.

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