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Last week I received an email from a student asking how service-oriented architecture (SOA) is covered in ARIS and what literature I can provide. I thought the answer might be also interesting for other people, so I also share it here.

As of my knowledge, there is no common understanding what SOA really means. Many people view it as a technical solution architecture based on services available on the web (i.e. web services). Others have a narrower view on it by only considering the W3C-stack (i.e. WSDL, SOAP) as a possible technology ignoring other approaches such as REST. However, there is also a broader view on SOA, where services are used to represent reusable business components. Such services can be implemented by technology, but they don't have to. The emphasis is on organising the overall enterprise architecture following a service-oriented principle. In sum, we can say there are two main views on SOA:

  • SOA as technical solution architecture
  • SOA as guiding principle of an enterprise architecture

ARIS is able to support both SOA understandings. In a technical SOA, ARIS can be used to organise web services, relate them to business processes, and generate executable business processes. We use UML to represent the content of WSDL files. Web services can be related to functions of a business process like an EPC or BPMN model. ARIS SOA Architect also provides a feature to transform an EPC process model into an executable BPEL process model. The BPEL model can be further refined in ARIS before it gets exported to an execution environment. There are many papers available on that topic. For example, my colleague Jörg has written an ARIS Expert Paper outlining the main steps of such a process automation project. In a more scientific paper, we have described the vertical transformation strategy. In contrast to many other vendors, we don't force users to pollute their business process models with technical details. This ensures that the process models stay independent of the technology and that they will remain stable even if the underlying technology to implement them changes.

ARIS also supports the business understanding of SOA. For me, this is the more exciting part of SOA, because it is a holistic approach not just focusing on technology, but also taking the whole enterprise into account. ARIS provides a comprehensive modelling method to cover all parts of a service-oriented enterprise architecture. Services can be described on various abstraction levels such as services independent of IT (i.e. reusable business components). It is also possible to group services into different categories so that you can define individual governance processes. That is important, because a reusable business component will need a different management than an IT artefact. I published an ARIS Expert Paper about the ARIS SOA modelling method. The ARIS SOA modelling method and the belonging features are also part of ARIS SOA Architect.

There are many more publications on this topic available. Please let me know if you need further details!

Tags: soa ARIS