Engineering Firm Constructs Application Integration Strategy With SOA
A service-oriented architecture lets Washington Group International unite common practices across its wide range of businesses. Find out what the company has learned from its integration project.
The concept of a service-oriented architecture was designed with companies like Washington Group International in mind. What else could possibly integrate applications for a company whose business ranges from homeland security to building the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, power plants and manufacturing facilities?
The $3.2 billion global engineering, construction and management services firm's ongoing SOA project is part of a wider corporate initiative for sharing common business processes across its vast lines of business (See "The Hard Sell"). "This is where SOA fits in nicely," says Rich Colton, application integration manager for WGI, headquartered in Boise, Idaho. So far, WGI is focusing on integrating applications across its industrial process, mining and power groups, where there's the most potential synergy among business processes, Colton says.
WGI is using its SOA to build new Web services (functions and processes), as well as reuse existing Web services across multiple applications. That simplifies software development for WGI, and also provides its users with more features for their favorite apps.
It's no surprise that WGI--which has locations across the U.S. and in more than 30 countries and provides its services to power, mining, transportation and other industries--has a wide mix of application and server platforms that support its diverse operations. "In our industries, there's no one product you can go out and buy. There's no ERP system to address engineering and construction, for instance, so we must use various best-of-breed applications," Colton says.
The firm uses Oracle's BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) Process Manager software for creating and deploying its new Web services-based application infrastructure. The first phase of its SOA deployment focuses on integrating apps that support its contracted engineering and construction projects and upgrading its back-end IT processes, such as moving data to its data marts and between applications. A thousand users worldwide will initially have access to these SOA-enabled apps--through an Oracle Portal client--and the company says that number will eventually reach 8,000.
Colton says WGI chose Oracle's J2EE-based Web services over Microsoft's .NET architecture for its SOA server platform because, at the time, it was more robust than .NET, and because WGI already had other Oracle software in-house.
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