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BUSI3501U-Winter2012-Week2-Article1 (1)

BUSI3501U-Winter2012-Week2-Article1 (1) - ServiceS...

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46 IT Pro May/June 2008 P ublis h ed by t h e I E E E C o m pu te r S o ciet y 1520-9202/08/$25.00 © 2008 IEEE SERVICES COMPUTING What’s in a Name? Distinguishing between SaaS and SOA Phillip A. Laplante, Penn State University Jia Zhang, Northern Illinois University Jeffrey Voas, SAIC Considerable confusion arises in distinguishing between software as a service (SaaS) and service-oriented architecture (SOA). Zachman’s framework can help to try to make sense of the alphabet soup of Web services and utilities that form the basis for both SOA and SaaS. V arious IT professionals have, at one time or another, erroneously used the terms software as a service (SaaS) and service-oriented architecture (SOA) in- terchangeably. At best, this faulty practice creates confusion; at its worst, it can lead to poor designs. Our goal, therefore, is to clarify the meaning of these two often used and abused terms. Briefly stated, the difference between SaaS and SOA is that the former is a software-delivery model whereas the latter is a software-construc- tion model. A better way to illuminate the differ- ences between these two concepts is to use the well-known Zachman architectural model. 1 In this article, we briefly examine the con- cepts of SaaS and SOA, followed by a brief his- tory of software architectural models. We use the Zachman model to differentiate the two architectural approaches to building software. Because the Zachman model is so intuitive, the approach we take to describe the differences between SaaS and SOA works well even with non-IT professionals. Defining the Terms Sometimes known as subscription software , 2 the SaaS delivery model essentially separates soft- ware ownership from the user—the owner is a vendor who hosts the software and lets the user execute it on-demand through some form of client-side architecture via the Internet or an intranet. This new model delivers software as utility services and charges on a per-use ba- sis, similar to the way a utility company charges © Twwphoto | Dreamstime.com
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computer.org/ ITPro 47 for electricity. Perhaps the most celebrated SaaS product is the Salesforce.com tool for customer- relationship management. Yet, SaaS products are available for a wide range of business functions, including customer service, human resource management, desktop functionality, email, pay- roll, financial applications, and supply chain and inventory control. 3 In a SOA model, the constituent components of the software system are reusable services. 4 A collection of services interact with each other through standard interfaces and communica- tion protocols. SOA promises to fundamentally change the way we build internal systems as well as the way internal and external systems interact. This architectural strategy goes hand in glove with software applications that are close to busi- ness objects that help to create an abstraction layer (because SOA lets you select custom soft- ware “parts” that can align closely with their cor- responding business functionality). SOA is also a
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