Flexible friend

IT agility remains a collective figment of the imagination at some vendors' marketing departments rather than something which can actually be realised.

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By  Administrator Published  May 1, 2007

Industry analyst firm Gartner estimates that by 2008, over 60% of enterprises will use service-oriented architecture (SOA) as a guiding principle when creating essential software applications and business processes.

That's no pipedream. SOA is enabling businesses to increase their competitive advantage and build a sustainable business through accelerating innovation, capturing new revenue, developing operational efficiencies and empowering information workers.

Business processes are the key to unlocking the potential of these strategies and adapting to changing business needs for competitive differentiation.

"The ability to execute these strategies better and faster than competitors is critical to a company's success. Business processes are the key to unlocking the potential of these strategies and adapting to changing business needs for competitive differentiation," says Bernhard Braunegger, director of alliances and marketing at SAP.

Dubai e-government (DEG) agrees. It believes that with proper planning, it is possible to achieve the right amount of flexibility to meet changing needs and says it has achieved a high degree of flexibility with the infrastructure supporting its different portals.

The secret, it says, is to put down several design guidelines and principals set during its portal infrastructure design. DEG's IT infrastructure is flexible in various dimensions. Its servers, firewalls, switches, memory, and CPU can all be scaled up as and when the need arises. Such additions are said to entail minimal configuration changes to the existing portal infrastructure.

DEG has identified various layers of abstraction in its portal design and has implemented those layers to ensure independence among them - its SOA project, for example.

It has also implemented several synergistic services for various entities in the Government to use. These are modular building blocks implemented as reusable components.

"However, achieving such flexibility requires significant IT knowledge and also design complexity in the IT infrastructure," says Salem Khamis Al-Shair, director of eServices, DEG.

"Well-formulated IT processes and infrastructure complexity compromise flexibility in certain cases, however, bring sustainability and scalability," he warns.

At the end of every year, DEG decides on the initiatives and various activities that will be implemented during the subsequent year and turns them into actual well-defined projects along with resources and timelines. IT is part of this strategic planning process and participates in all the strategic and business decisions that DEG takes. This allows IT to plan its resources for the upcoming year.

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