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4 Steps To Better SOA


Raghuraman Krishnamurthy is a principal architect, Vinod Ranganathan a technical lead, and Baskar Senguttuvan a senior architect at Cognizant's Technology Consulting Group.


Looking back on NASA's effort to integrate data from many different sources, Richard Keller shakes his head.

The space agency wanted to take data collected during a field expedition, including sample data, photos, voice recordings, and GPS information and integrate it with satellite imagery, GIS data, and information about the characteristics of minerals found in the samples. "Not only were the types of information heterogeneous, but the formats ranged widely from spreadsheet files to SQL databases to Web pages," the senior research computer scientist says.

But that was only half the problem. Once he got the information, Keller then needed to determine how data stored in all those different formats was related.

"If you have fields in two separate databases that are both named 'temp,'is it legitimate to assume they represent the same quantity and can be integrated together?" Keller asks.

"One might represent a 'temperature' and the other a 'temporary' value. To properly combine these two fields, you really need to understand what the data represents." (Read more from Keller .)

At NASA and other large entities -- both in government and business -- integrating heterogeneous data is a challenge, but it's one that must be faced in order to easily share information internally and with outside partners. The integration challenge is one reason why NASA and many organizations are turning to service-oriented architectures combined with semantic integration. SOA consists of services that offer interoperability capabilities built into the network. While SOA's business-centric approach has sparked enthusiasm, the challenge is now to build in inference capabilities to make intelligent and dynamic selection of Web services possible. This is where semantic technology -- the modeling of an area of knowledge like biology or economics as close to natural language as possible -- comes into play.

Does Ontology Make Sense for Your Business?

    Does Ontology Make Sense for Your Busines?

    • If your business processes have a lot of variability, defining an ontology model could help streamline processes by delegating complexity to a layer that eases semantic integration.
    • If your business is faced with a lot of change, then its business process implementation may get quickly outmoded. An ontology layer can provide a good reference model for the current implementation and seamless extensibility to encompass future variability.
    • In some domains, such as biology and economics, shared ontologies are being created that could evolve into industry standards. An ontology-based approach lets you adhere to evolving standards.
    • If you use public data sources, ontology is often the natural choice, especially in areas where knowledge representation is important. the network.

While SOA's business-centric approach has sparked enthusiasm, the challenge is now to build in inference capabilities to make intelligent and dynamic selection of Web services possible. This is where semantic technology -- the modeling of an area of knowledge like biology or economics as close to natural language as possible -- comes into play.


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