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Wall Street Eyes SOAs

New York City -- Use of Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs) in the financial sector is on the rise, but a lack of standards remains a major source of frustration for IT managers looking to implement the technology.

This was the message from CIOs and IT managers attending the Web Services/SOA on Wall Street conference in New York today. Skip Snow, enterprise architect at Citigroup, is fully committed to the technology: It would be impossible to organically grow Citigroup without SOA.”

SOA is an architectural approach to building software applications as a collection of autonomous, re-usable business services. The basic idea behind SOA is that it lets users run these applications across different platforms, including the Web. It also becomes the glue by which IT departments look to bind together disparate locations and newly acquired companies, a big requirement given all the M&A activity that's characterized the financial sector in recent years. “We want to respond more quickly,” explained Snow. “We want to have more services re-use.”

Jim Crew, former director of infrastructure and data services at Merrill Lynch, oversaw the rollout of a major SOA project at the investment bank between 2001 and late 2005. He said Merrill Lynch now supports 45 key applications on the technology. “We recognized that Web Services (and) SOA are the future,” Crew explained, adding that the firm’s broker-dealer and 401(k) email systems are part of the SOA.

If users think that SOAs are some sort of technology silver bullet, they should think again, said Snow, who told Byte and Switch that standards need to be sorted out pronto. “It’s a mess. We have the standard wars between the major players -- the vendors should start behaving themselves.”

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