"We are driven by our clients, not by products." This line from RiskMetrics Group's Web site nicely sums up why it's turning to services-oriented architecture. The company needs to mix, scale and flexibly change its services to suit the needs of its customers, and SOA will help it do just that.
Spun off from JP Morgan in 1998, RiskMetrics offers a range of market-, credit- and wealth-risk management services to large banks, insurance companies, asset managers and hedge funds. The company's embrace of SOA, which is well under way, will help it evolve from an application service provider, hosting fixed configurations of software, to a more flexible approach.
"SOA will help us create many different services for our customers, and it will enable us to scale each service independently," explains Paul Schmitter, the firm's head of process management. "If we need to add capacity in the report-generation area versus analytical processing, we can add that independently."
SOA also will help the firm better consume and integrate Salesforce.com, the SaaS-based CRM environment it has relied on for nearly three years. "We're going to put a wrapper around the Salesforce Web services and make them available on our platform," Schmitter says. "Salesforce will be the system of record for client contact information, and we'll be using its software as one of our services."
RiskMetrics already uses Salesforce Web services to replicate data in the CRM system for backup, to copy data to its on-premise data warehouse, to handle the workflow behind customer-support and to automate subscription renewals.
Salesforce tracks the company's service subscription amounts, contract dates, and usage and service records, then that information is integrated and handed off to the company's on-premise Epicor accounting system. Subscription renewal objects in Salesforce help the company accurately forecast sales a year in advance.
Services expose data stored in Salesforce directly to RiskMetrics customers, making it an enterprise mashup that truly blends on-premise and SaaS-based applications. "Customers see what services they've purchased, when their subscription expires, the status of their support tickets and lots of information about their system usage, and that will reinforce the value of our product," Schmitter says.