Designing a SOA Roadmap for the University

Over on my other blog, I talk about our first pass Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) roadmap for Bristol, arising from the Master Data Integration strategy. See the description at In brief, it contains 6 steps, listed as follows,

Step 1. Make the initial business case for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)

Purpose: gaining senior level buy-in




Step 2. Complete the data dictionary and the interface catalogue to at least 80% for all master data system integrations.

Purpose: good documentation of the As Is data integration architecture, to speed up analysis done in advance of new system integration, to speed up analysis of the impact of any changes to master data structures and also to offer clear semantics to support the interpretation of business reports.



Step 3: Introduce data governance.

Purpose: ensure that changes to master data structures are managed in a controlled way as they propagate throughout our IT system landscape (avoiding unexpected system and process failure and/or damage to our organization’s reputation)


Step 4: Analyse the interface catalogue and develop a logical data model from the data dictionary.

Purpose: describe more specifically the cost-savings and agility that the University stands to gain if it invests in consistently applied SOA technology (reducing the proliferation of point-point integrations) and design the “To Be” architecture – a precursor for step 5.

Step 5: Deploy a SOA technology solution, train IT developers to use and maintain it.


This is just an illustrative diagram rather than a systems architecture diagram. Through this step we hope to deliver:

  • Cheaper, less complex to maintain, standardized master data integration architecture (blue ring).
  • Higher guarantees of data security & compliance (data services to have Service Level Agreements and data security to be built in from the outset)
  • Agility to respond quickly to Cloud and Shared Services opportunities
  • Quicker to respond to changes in external reporting data structures (KIS, HESA, REF etc.)

Step 6: Train our IT developers and Business Analysts to work together to work together using a standard set of skills and tools based around BPEL, BPM etc.

At this point we expect to reach the level of SOA sophistication where we have the ability to orchestrate and optimize end to end processes that share and manipulate data, creating efficiencies and business agility across the institution.
Suffice it to say, we are some years off Step 6! We are currently working on steps 2-4  above. This Autumn I am running a knowledge exchange workshop for HEI’s working on SOA roadmaps to gather and compare and contrast their plans, successes and lessons learned to date. I look forward to sharing the outcomes of the event.






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