Digital marketing group turns SOA blu

Patented SOA layer integrates multiple technology stacks

Enterprise service oriented architectures have received a fair amount of hype, but Sydney-based digital marketing group BlueFreeway has leveraged SOA to integrate services from more than 20 companies to create a global, Web-based marketing portal dubbed "blu".

Founded in October last year by former Red Sherriff CEO Richard Webb, BlueFreeway has acquired 22 companies over the past 12 months and is set to launch blu as a software-as-a-service offering for marketing professionals all around the world.

With so many companies and technologies to leverage, BlueFreeway CTO Simon Spencer immediately saw the need for a SOA approach which would minimize the amount of integration work required.

"We've taken existing technologies and brought them together into a complete service fabric," Spencer told Computerworld. "We've done an enormous amount in a very short time. We inherited a huge mess of technologies and in 12 months we've integrated them. It's like tipping a box full of Lego everywhere while Rick [Webb] is trying to build a unified marketing message."

Recognizing there will be diversity among the groups, Spencer believes adopting service orientation, is "the smartest thing we've done".

With technology stacks engineering in J2EE, PHP, and .Net, Spencer and fellow IT architect Stuart Hudson decided on .Net for the SOA layer which is now patented and could even be commercialized.

"By and large we are predominantly .Net with SQLServer, Sybase, and Oracle," Spencer said. "It's about having a strong federated architecture. We now have a single set of data and business services and over time we will start to rationalize and integrate them."

BlueFreeway could have attempted to re-engineer the component technologies to create the blu portal, but both Hudson and Spencer agree going down the SOA route saved a significant amount of time and development resources.

Formerly architecture strategy manager for the National Australia Bank, Spencer's advice for enterprises working on an SOA strategy is to "care about the business, not the implementation".

"SOA is about business strategy," he said. "It is about being very pragmatic. Most of the senior technology team survived the dotcom boom and saw a lot of ivory towers. Now I'm taking companies and using Web services to tie them together."

For any business that has been through a lot of mergers, or has a heterogeneous environment, Spencer said SOA provides a "get out jail free card" and answers "how do I get out of this mess to provide meaningful business solutions?"

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