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Enterprise SOA

Dan Woods and Thomas Mattern
Published by O'Reilly Media
452 pages
£ 35.50
Published: 16 May 2006
reviewed by Mike Smith
   in the September 2006 issue (pdf), (html)

SOA is the biggest new buzzword (or perhaps buzz-acronym) in the IT industry today. IBM are making quite a noise about it, so I'm sure it's not just fad. However let me warn you that this book, Enterprise SOA, is not a general text on SOA but a guide to SAP's Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA).

In case you're not aware of who SAP are, they where formed in the 70s by some ex-IBMers. R1 and R2 were mainframe products, but my own knowledge on SAP was gained in managing SAP/R3 on various UNIX systems during the 90s.

Now SAP are delivering services using Internet technologies - web services, SOAP etc with their mySAP services. Their approach for designing applications on this infrastructure (into the future) is called the Enterprise Services Architecture. They have a product to underpin this, the SAP NetWeaver platform. There's more information here:

The rhetoric from SAP on their website, the back of the book and seemingly all over the place is ``Enterprise service-oriented architecture (enterprise SOA) is a blueprint for services-based, enterprise-scale business solutions that offer increased levels of adaptability, flexibility, and openness. With the SAP NetWeaver platform as its technical foundation, enterprise SOA moves IT architectures step-by-step to dramatically higher levels of adaptability - and helps companies move closer to the vision of the real-time enterprise.'' I hope that helps!

I found it quite heavy reading, but perhaps this is because it is more on the business analysis side and application development to a certain extent, rather than technology where my interests lie. There is some good material on the business process lifecycle, how SOA (and ESA) fits, and most importantly how to construct a business case. However my main point stands - I think this is of most relevence if you are using the SAP services and product set. In fact there are some case studies covering how some of SAP's client have used their ESA methodology (if I can call it that).

So I think this book is very much an advert for SAP, written by two of its employees. There might be something more general - have a look at Amazon. There's a book of the same name published in 2004 but there are several others with rave reviews. Don't buy this just because it's O'Reilly.

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