Users Cite SOA Savings

Verizon and Guardian Life save with SOAs, but warn others to tread softly

January 28, 2006

3 Min Read
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Verizon and Guardian Life Insurance have racked up savings of $20 million and $10 million respectively by deploying Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs) within their IT infrastructures. But execs from the two companies this week warned other IT managers to take a "softly, softly" approach to the technology.

Speaking at the IDC SOA Forum in New York City, Ruchir Rodrigues, executive director for strategic systems and development at Verizon, and Jaime Sguerra, CTO of Guardian Life, explained how their firms are reaping the benefits of SOAs, which comprise software platforms that run application services across different computing environments.

Earlier in the week, the forum drew much criticism of the hype that has surrounded SOAs. (See Users Send SOA SOS.)

But Rodrigues says Verizon has saved around $20 million over the last two years, largely by using an SOA to streamline the rollout of new services. There’s tons of money that we can save on the low hanging fruit by bringing the number of duplicated services down,” he told the forum audience.

The telecom giant, which started off with around 10,000 separate service platforms, has managed to consolidate its service offerings considerably. Over 500 Web-based services use a single SOA platform.According to Rodrigues, this has helped Verizon cut its capital expenditures and also reduce its maintenance costs.

Guardian Life, which started work on its own SOA in 2001, also used the technology to make sense of its IT infrastructure. “There was really not a standard way to build or connect applications together,” explained Sguerra.

Now, however, the SOA supports 60 different services, connecting applications such as voice recognition and transaction processing systems. This has helped shave 32 percent off Guardian Life’s application development budget, amounting to more than $10 million in cost savings. “It has paid for itself,” Squerra said.

Although neither exec revealed which technologies they used to build their SOAs, Rodrigues says standards such as the Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) and the Universal Description Discovery Integration (UDDI) framework were helpful. WSDL is used to describe XML-based network services, whereas UDDI aims to provide a global registry for Web services.

This could give hope to users concerned about a both a lack of best practice models and competing standards for some of the Web services underpinning SOAs. (See SOAs: Approach With Caution, SOS for SOAs, and Burton Group Over Stumbling Blocks.)But both execs warned users to tread carefully when deploying SOAs, particularly when convincing other parts of the business to use the technology. ”If you could show senior management a small application that you built earlier, it always helps in the long run,” explained Rodrigues. “Fifty percent is technology, fifty percent is evangelization -- talking to people, telling them that this service will help.”

These sentiments are echoed by Sguerra: “We really put together a ‘what’s in it for me’ type campaign to explain to developers and business users the advantages of developing services this way.”

Rodrigues urged other IT managers to bring in the big guns to get other parts of the business to adopt SOAs. “If they still didn’t listen, my trump card was my senior management,” he said. “I had my CIO backing me saying, ‘Hey guy, you have got to use this system.'”

Tim Fisher, senior vice president of New Jersey-based services firm RCG Technology told Byte and Switch that he thinks that a cautious approach to SOAs is best. “I don’t think that you want to start out on a massive project,” he said. “You’re going have to pick a small project and take it to people in the business units.”

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and SwitchOrganizations mentioned in this article:

  • IDC

  • Verizon Communications Inc.

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