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Building An SOA Pipeline

Service-oriented architecture may be a hot buzzword to some in IT right now, but when it comes to implementing a comprehensive IT-business strategy, buzzwords don't mean much. That's especially true for a $45 billion multinational company such as British American Tobacco.

Why then are we embarking on this new technology architecture? In part, BAT's service-oriented architecture vision is based on our belief that simply adopting Web services standards isn't enough. We adopted SOA because it was time for an "industrial revolution." Our existing approaches to integration and application development were costly to implement and sustain, fragmented and hard to consolidate, and time-consuming and slow to deliver value.

In the past three years, as we researched the subject and made our purchase decisions, we found that SOA's true benefits begin to emerge only when a business shifts its IT orientation from a technology-architecture focus to a business-architecture focus. For us, this is a different way of thinking that ensures that new IT assets are built to be SOA-ready. We hope that a business-architecture focus will have long-term benefits, enabling different architectural layers to evolve independently and embrace composite applications. For the business, that means quicker solutions, lower costs, and greater agility.

To better understand the journey we've taken, some background is useful. British American Tobacco is the world's second-largest publicly traded tobacco group, with more than 300 brands in its portfolio. The group leads in more than 50 of the 180 markets where it does business, and employs more than 90,000 people.

We've gone with a traditional approach to integration and application development, and we've implemented a leading message-oriented middleware solution for integration and application-development tools, ranging from Java integrated development environments (IDEs) to Lotus Domino. This will all evolve into the new SOA architecture we're deploying across our global operating company.

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