Sony Broadband Services Builds Web Services Infrastructure

Services-Based Architecture Enables Interoperability and Cost Savings

March 6, 2003

Web Services deliver tremendous benefit when coupled with a services-based Architecture. The evolution to a services-based Architecture can be speeded by implementing a Web Services backplane, which provides core services to be used by all systems and applications. The backplane also provides the framework for creating, sharing, and managing application- and system-level services. In tackling their interoperability requirements, this is exactly the approach taken by Sony Broadband Services. In a matter of months, the company implemented its Web Services backplane to support interoperability and shared services using Blue Titan and BEA WebLogic Server.

NETTING IT OUT

The greatest long-term benefit to be gained from Web Services is from establishing a services-based architecture that will support business adaptability and integrate organizations, applications, and infrastructures. The services- based architecture makes it relatively easy to share services among business units, as well as with customers, partners, and suppliers.

Sony Broadband Services has applied the services-based architecture concepts to the issue of interoperability, creating an infrastructure to support Web Services that will be offered and consumed by Sony business units worldwide and by third parties.

Sony Broadband’s mobilizing objective was eliminating duplication of development and operational effort across Sony Corporation of America and its operating companies (Sony Music Entertainment Inc., Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Sony Electronics Inc.) while, at the same time, providing a platform to enable individual Sony organizations to offer best-of-breed services.

Building an entirely new replacement infrastructure from scratch was never an option: given the range and scope and diversity, plus pace of change, it wasn’t sensible or appropriate to define static platform architecture. Instead, Sony Broadband Services adopted the mantra of interoperability, with a focus on customer-facing as well as internal systems. Standard interfaces were deemed far more important than dictating environments or technologies. Web Services were an attractive means for providing a standardized way of achieving interoperability.

In early 2002, Bernard Lin, Senior Director of the Broadband Services Company, and the lead architect for the project at Sony Corporation of America, formed a special-interest group with company-wide participation to look for the best approaches to interoperability. The group determined that a Web Services platform providing core services to all groups would be the best approach to encouraging and supporting common services.

The architecture was developed over the ensuing months, culminating in an RFP issued in September, 2002. The Web Service platform, code named Web-X, was deployed using Blue Titan and BEA WebLogic Server in December 2002. The first service on this infrastructure, the Keyword Lookup Service, was completed in February 2003. Keyword Lookup will be one of the first services implemented on Web-X.

Two elements critical to Sony Broadband Service’s success in building the Web Services infrastructure were the pragmatic goal of minimizing e-business application development and maintenance costs, and Bernard Lin’s decision to involve developers from throughout the company to participate in the definition and development of Web-X.

VALUE FROM SERVICES-BASED ARCHITECTURE AND WEB SERVICES

The Web Services’ specifications and standards have brought new focus on service-oriented architectures (SOA). In the SOA paradigm, business operations are comprised of a fabric of services, which, in turn, rely on a common set of core infrastructure services, which we call the Web Services Backplane. The service-oriented architecture makes it very easy to control business processes across an organization by changing an individual service that is shared by all applications.

Web Service implementations can leverage, encourage, or create a services-based architecture. Implementing a services-based architecture is not a small effort, but you will reap huge benefits in the adaptability of business processes and the consolidation of development and operations costs as a result of establishing and using a common set of services.

The business challenge for most organizations in implementing services-based architectures is in funding an effort that will deliver most of its value in the future, the problem all corporations have in justifying infrastructure improvements.

The technical challenge is in designing a services-based architecture that will suit the company’s present and future needs.

There is a governance challenge as well: how do you recruit decentralized development organizations to participate in using services, creating services, and communicating plans and requirements?

Sony Broadband Services has effectively tackled these challenges by first funding an initiative to minimize redundant e-Business platform investments across business units, factoring out common technology into common platforms or foundation elements, and then by instituting a grass roots ...


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