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Issue 6 / February 2009 From SOA to plug ‘n’ play – the future of banking platforms
by Dougie McNeill,
Research & Innovation, (GA&BI)
dougie.mcneill@rbs.co.uk
From SOA
to plug ‘n’ play
– the future of banking platforms
Wouldn’t it be great to drop
In many ways, this was the promise of In theory, it should be possible to source It will remain difficult to gain all the flexibility Messages – the lifeblood of an Where do the standards for financial
in a new banking application
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) – these building blocks in different ways – and cost benefits that should be possible SOA platform services technology come from?
a technology model where discrete bits the best bits of standard functionality from with SOA without a common set of
system and have it simply work
of business functionality are packaged market leaders, combined with bespoke standards across banking application
Messages convey information between The world of international standards
with all the other applications
in standard ways as “services”, available differentiating functionality, to create the vendors, the banks themselves and,
services in an SOA platform. They need to development has an arcane quality and
around about it? No need to go
to be “consumed” by other services or very best platform for the organisation. ultimately, the banking customer.
be properly constructed in order that the there is a bewildering array of organisations
accessed by customers and staff in a
receiving service can recognise and and acronyms. In an attempt to simplify
through expensive and lengthy
friendly presentation format.
Much has been written about SOA and, The technical standards that underpin SOA process them. Although the technical matters, the standards hierarchy relating to
integration work, worrying
in truth, the basic concept is very much have been established for quite some time syntax for SOA messages is established, financial services technology can be
now reality. A quick trawl around the major and, at a bits and bytes level, services are there are few common definitions that considered in the following way.
about data mappings and
a… s Einstein famously said, we
vendors of core banking systems soon able to communicate reliably and securely. ensure communications from one service
transformations, and crafting
reveals that all of them have aligned their
At the top level, the United Nations, and
should “make everything as simple
Now the problem is not so much around
make sense to another service from a
ways to access new function
products with the SOA model. So, can we different provider. Core concepts (such
more specifically the Centre for Trade
as possible, but not simpler.” plug ‘n’ play? Well, not quite.
how to communicate between services, but Facilitation and eBusiness (UN/CEFACT),
from existing platforms.
what to communicate. It’s all very well being
as Customer, Product, Transaction) are
maintains a core component library to
In short, wouldn’t it be great
able to send a letter to someone but if they
represented in systems in different ways
don’t speak your language you haven’t
with different attributes, and a simple matter
facilitate trade across all industries. For the
to have applications that just
Why SOA? The need for standards
– at every level
started communicating.
such as adding a product holding in one
financial services sector, they accept the
“plug ‘n’ play”?
system to a customer file in another cannot
work of ISO (the International Standards
Over-complexity is a perennial problem
be assumed to just work.
Organisation).
for many large business organisations We would find it ludicrous if every CD in
and, as Einstein famously said, we should the world came with its own dedicated
It is the adoption of global
Interestingly, in one way, the banking
ISO20022 (also known as UNIFI) is an
“make everything as simple as possible, CD player and could only be used with that
standards that enables a CD from
industry has already led the world in the
umbrella “standard for creating standards”
but not simpler.” An SOA approach helps device. Yet, all too often, the relationship common definition of electronic formats
designed to enable interoperability between
businesses to manage complexity by between systems and the information
any record label to operate in a
and meanings. The streamlining of
numerous financial standardisation
isolating business functions at an contained within those systems has exactly player from any electronics interbank payments and global securities
initiatives. ISO evaluates candidate
appropriate level of simplicity, and then that constraint. Sharing information
manufacturer. We need to see the
markets through SWIFT is a prime example
standards submitted for accreditation,
combining these to achieve complex between different systems can involve
processing only where required and without much time, effort and cost.
same standards-based approach
of the benefits standardisation can bring.
and once approved, adds them to the ISO
If we can extend the standards-based
Repository. ISO, therefore, has a critical role
duplication. These business process
to banking platforms.
It is the existence and adoption of global
messaging approach to other areas of the
in ensuring that a standard has applicability
building blocks form the “services” in a
standards that enables a CD from any
banking business then the prospect of
across the industry.
Service Oriented Architecture and, since
record label to operate in a player from any
plug’n’play banking applications takes The actual development of financial
they can be added and dropped, ordered
electronics manufacturer. We need to see
a big step forward. messaging standards comes from a variety
and re-ordered, they deliver the ultimate
the same standards-based approach to
of vendor initiatives and industry
prize – flexibility.
break the proprietary constraints that still
associations (including SWIFT). Recently,
surround banking platforms.
two of these groups – IFX and BIAN – have
announced plans to develop the next
generation of banking messaging
standards.
8 / Perspectives on the future Perspectives on the future / 9
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