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The On Demand Operating Environment

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Services communicate with each other by exchanging structured information -- messages or documents (sometimes called business objects). Their capabilities are defined by interfaces declaring messages they can produce or consume, policy annotations declaring quality of service required or provided, and choreography annotations declaring behavioral constraints that must be respected in service interactions. The actual implementation is hidden from the service requester, thus SOAs are a convenient way to achieve application integration by allowing new and existing applications to be quickly combined into new contexts.

Existing applications are "adapted" to service declarations. An adapter follows the WebSphere® Business Integrator model, for example. The adapter implements the service interface and transforms messages into operation on the existing application.

All interactions between services flow through the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). This does not mean, however, that all interactions require network communication and XML messages. The ESB provides services with the "service" conceptual model, while allowing for optimized communication and encodings of messages. In extreme cases, the interaction between two services might bind to a local program call.

Matching of service requesters to providers can be done very early, prior to deploy time, or very late through dynamic discovery mechanisms.

SOAs require standards for the definition of services and their capabilities and interactions. The growing acceptance of XML as a standard representation of structured information and of Web services standards (often called WS-* standards) have greatly facilitated the adoption of this architectural approach. The conceptual model of SOA applies to the virtualization of both business functions and physical infrastructure. It spans the construction of applications as well as their deployment and management. Clients (users or businesses) only see a collection of business services and are interested in their quality of service, but the On Demand operating environment shields them from the details of application assembly and service delivery.

The next section explores the architecture for the On Demand operating environment and its guiding principles in more detail.

The On Demand Operating Environment is based upon the concepts of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). SOA views every application or resource as a service implementing a specific, identifiable set of (business) functions. In addition to the business functions, services in an on demand environment might also implement management interfaces to participate in the broader configuration, operation, and monitoring of the environment. This article provides an introduction to the On Demand Operating Environment.
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