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Process integration and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)

The integration of processes by appropriate IT structures in combination with an integrated information management becomes due to the increasing focus on business processes very important. A more efficient process-oriented integration of heterogeneous IT infrastructures and processes is supported by service-oriented architectures (SOA) and services. 

SOA represents an architectural principle, in which services are offered abstracted of their technical implementation. The user of the services sees only the external interface of the service, but not the individual service itself. Overall, the combination of these service modules allows the implementation of more robust and flexible applications. Due to the defined interfaces, the modules can be replaced without a lot of effort. Thus, the sequences in heterogeneous system landscapes, as they can be commonly found at an IT service provider and a university research facility, are much easier to implement. 

A SOA transformation includes the transition from the variety of interfaces, in which all services communicate unilaterally with other services and components in different languages, to a few protocols and to an exchange of standardized messages. An important technical component for implementing a SOA can be represented through a message-based service bus, called Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). The number of point-to-point connections and the number of implemented interfaces can be reduced, if the exchange of messages is not directly done between the services, but replaced through a bus, (see Figure). Thus, a message-based service bus can be used in addition to its coordinating role also for the monitoring of the implemented IT processes.

Research and development in the field of process integration is operated at the Steinbuch Centre for Computing (SCC). The SCC advises KIT organizational units in the design and the technical implementation of IT processes and provides integration solutions as well as support services for automated IT processes using a message-based service bus. Thus, the aim is pursued to automate IT processes and to integrate them in the KIT-wide system environment, so that a durable and reliable operation can be guaranteed. This should help improve productivity and quality of the processes. The SCC committed currently the platform Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010 as a technical platform and tool for orchestration of IT processes. This represents a message-based service bus, which facilitates a standardized communication between different applications and systems.