SOA projects prompt search for new management tools

Users say service-oriented architectures require sophisticated software

DENVER -- Several attendees at this week's HP Software Forum here said that as more large companies launch service-oriented architectures, there's a growing need for software that can help users manage the implementation of SOAs and monitor their use.

For example, DHL International GmbH plans to launch an SOA prototype in about a month, said Dennis Deane, the delivery company's Prague-based program manager for European IT services. DHL is eager to deploy an SOA because of expectations that it will enable easy reuse of applications, vastly reducing development time. "It will eliminate the custom connections we have to make to each [business] partner," Deane said.

But managing the process will be complex and require sophisticated software, Deane said. With that in mind, DHL is exploring SOA management tools from IBM and several other companies and wants to review the OpenView SOA Manager software that Hewlett-Packard Co. announced at the conference. That event was jointly sponsored by HP and the OpenView Forum International user group.

DHL began a global rollout of HP's OpenView Service Desk 4.5 software in May 2004. The company has already begun to see a 20% to 30% reduction in the cost of many IT functions related to configuration management and help desk services, said Gary Griffin, senior vice president and head of IT services at DHL's Scottsdale, Ariz., data center -- one of three DHL runs globally.

The multi-million dollar Service Desk implementation is expected to ultimately save DHL "tens of millions" annually by eliminating five licenses for rival help desk tools, plus the servers they run on, Deane said. It also should improve IT efficiency by providing simplified help desk procedures for supporting DHL's 130,000 PCs and 2,600 servers, he said.

The success DHL is seeing on the Service Desk project is contributing to Deane's interest in reviewing SOA Manager. He noted, though, that it might be another year or two before DHL has an SOA in place. "An SOA would be a very big deal," Deane said.

HP officials and industry analysts said SOA Manager will be most applicable to large customers. The tool has been tested by 20 companies globally over the past 18 months, according to Bill Emmett, HP's chief solutions manager for OpenView.

A senior vice president at a global financial conglomerate that was one of the beta-testers said he hopes his company is one of the first to deploy SOA Manager. The user, who asked that neither he nor his company be named, said the company hopes to gain a competitive advantage within its industry by using the software.

"We don't think of this technology in 1's or 0's, but as an enabler of business services," he said, adding that SOA Manager and the architecture it supports "should keep business processes simpler."

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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