Composition enables you to rapidly develop and deploy innovative and flexible business applications that employ enterprise SOA principles. A composite application itself, however, is composed of business logic and services, UI, process flows, and events.
Most composite applications projects will fall into one of the following “starting point” categories:
- “Edge Applications” provide innovative, often differentiating business logic to end users, spanning across organizational boundaries with collaborative workflows; SOA facilitates the reuse of existing functionality, model-driven development increases time-to-value; the leading development artifact is the service or business logic
For example, a manufacturing company implements a customer-facing composite application that handles complaint management for customer shipments. To report a problem with a shipment (e.g. damage, quality, wrong shipment address), the customer fills in and submits an online or offline form. When processed, the form triggers a business process that collects all relevant information about the issue raised by the customer and then involves the sales representative, the corporate complaint agents, and functional experts in handling the claim.
- “Business Process Transformation” driven composite applications implement cross-system innovative business processes; SOA provides the common standards for process choreography and service orchestration; here, the process design mostly drives the implementation.
For example, a high tech company with subsidiaries in many countries wants to implement a global process for employee performance management. However, their local HR systems (mostly from acquired companies) have not yet been consolidated into regional systems to benefit from the standard software. Building a composite “on top” of the local HR systems allows to abstract the new application from the backends while storing the HR data locally.
- Improved information access is a frequent requirement for increased “Business User Productivity“; composite applications and SOA enable you to make the dashboards “actionable” by integrating analytical and transactional elements into one application; most of these projects start off with UI designs and add workflows and business logic later.
For example, a parts supplier uses a composite “360-degree customer dashboard” to handle sales inquiries. When a customer calls, the composite immediately assembles all information about the customer’s buying frequency, past purchases, likely needs, creditworthiness, and shipping preferences. This enables the supplier to decide and act – to quote prices and shipping terms – immediately, within the same application interface and while still on the phone with the customer.
- Exception handling in “Integration and Automation” scenarios, often event-driven, complements the first three application archetypes; SOA-based composition tightly integrates with SOA-based integration; events trigger exception-handling workflows for this category.
For example, a trading company runs an integrated procure-to-sell process – and tries very hard to do “straight-through” processing with automated procurement matched directly to a sales order. The trading company builds a composite that manages the exceptions. If buy & sell opportunities can’t quickly be matched or change happens during the shipment, that event triggers a process to collect all necessary data and involve a trader.
These are real world uses of composite applications. And, in our experience, in most projects these are not isolated or separate. Rather, two or more of these elements are present in each composite – an event triggers a cross-application process that populates and presents a 360-degree dashboard, and so on. And that’s often the point – composite application development enables flexible, rapid responses to business opportunities and business points of pain. The four examples I present above are starting points for your own innovative work.
Join me at CE101 – Enterprise SOA and the Road to Composition at SAP TechEd in Las Vegas or in Munich to hear more on this topic. I think you’ll agree – the possibilities are exciting. See you there!