UT Moves to Service-Oriented Architecture Model

The ultimate goal of ASMP 2.0 is to allow the University Administrative community to continue to grow and innovate in a sustainable environment, directing more resources to our core mission of teaching, research, and service. ASMP 2.0 has many projects running in tandem to achieve that goal, including retiring the University’s mainframe and replacing our administrative systems technical architecture.

The Technology Architecture (Tech Arch) team has been charged with replacing the current mainframe-based architecture with a new Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) model. SOA is a set of technical best practices widely used in the public sector as a foundation for IT innovation.

“The SOA model makes it easier for software systems connected over a network to integrate” said Cooper Henson, Senior IT Manager for ITS Applications. “Ultimately, business units providing web services will be able to modify or upgrade their technology without any interruption in business function. These loosely-coupled integrations make the University’s technical architecture more agile.”

This move to a widely-adopted industry standard is part of the Tech Arch team’s overall effort to make the technical, organizational, and cultural changes necessary to align architecture, applications, and operations with the business needs of the University, said Henson.

“The ultimate goal of the Tech Arch team is to free up our University developers to focus their IT skills on solving business problems quickly, consuming web services instead of spending time on complex and redundant architecture and tools” said Henson. “This move to SOA represents a major shift in thinking for our developers and will require training and time to adapt, but, ultimately this move will provide the University with long-lasting benefits by promoting reuse of existing web services and speeding delivery of business functionality.”

What is Service-Oriented Architecture?

SOA is an architecture strategy that drives a close alignment to the business by deconstructing IT systems into discreet services that perform business functions. Most services carry out some small function such as producing or validating data. The SOA model allows applications to leverage a service over and over again, making it unnecessary to start from scratch each time an application needs to be upgraded or replaced.

SOA will also allow developers to build and leverage a suite of business services that can be assembled into sophisticated applications that meet the complex needs of our business units. This concept of reuse allows our technical architecture to quickly adapt to the changing needs of the University.

As part of an SOA approach, the Tech Arch team will provide the following:

  • Discoverability of services
  • Reusability of services
  • Consistency in connecting to services
  • Security for services
  • Monitoring capabilities for services

A new Enterprise Service Bus, powered by MuleSoft, will provide a secure and robust environment to help systems operate independently for most upgrades or changes that may be taking place with other applications.

“In the long run, this SOA approach will provide the University with greater business agility while allowing our developers to focus more of their skills on automating processes to meet the needs of business owners,” said Henson.

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