IBM today is combining its  industry leading expertise in Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and information management to help clients more easily share data and deliver better service by freeing information from individual applications and reusing it throughout their enterprise.

As the adoption of SOA increases, organisations using this standards-based framework for delivering information recognise the need to deliver integrated operational information to their systems and business processes. This helps ensure accurate and complete information is used throughout the business while making it possible to deliver new information in real-time.

More than 200 clients worldwide already rely upon a close combination of information management software and IBM SOA software and services to realise the benefits of leveraging information as a service.

In response to this growing trend, IBM is more closely aligning its SOA and information management software and services offerings to meet increasing demand for a unified approach to effectively managing and addressing industry-specific business challenges.

Helzberg Diamonds is one such client using an SOA to manage IT assets more proactively and help improve products and services for customers.

“By leveraging our SOA and IBM information integration software together, we’ve been able to make available the best and most consistent information to all of our employees,” says Greg Backhus, director of data warehousing and decision support systems at Helzberg Diamonds. “As a result, Helzberg Diamonds has been able to provide a level of service that keeps our customers coming back.”

IBM software and services will help accelerate the process of defining and deploying information services. These include a new version of IBM Service Oriented Modeling and Architecture (SOMA), developed by IBM Global Business Services to help clients rapidly develop and implement a long-term plan for moving to a service oriented architecture.

IBM also unveiled WebSphere Information Analyzer, a new module for IBM Information Server that helps customers eliminate the risk of reusing bad data. In addition, IBM Information Server provides new capabilities that complement IBM WebSphere Process Server to enable tighter integration between information and business processes.

A new extension to Rational Data Architect helps provide additional value from IBM’s industry-specific data models.

With this announcement, IBM is further enabling organisations to more easily embed integration capabilities within their SOA-driven processes. This in turn, can transform businesses, providing a competitive advantage by reducing the time it takes to generate sales reports, deliver real-time visibility into inventory and product availability, or improve customer service response time.

“Many CIOs are beginning to recognise the urgent need for information strategies to support their SOA initiatives,” says Joe Ruthven, who is leading the SOA initiateve in South Africa.

“IBM is helping organisations enable their Business Performance Management and Operational Intelligence strategies by applying a more operational orientation to information integration that delivers greater strategic value to the enterprise. By helping clients apply SOA principles and critical IBM Information Management software, organisations can gather and analyse the right customer, product and other information from diverse sources and deliver it to their business processes – in real time to improve decision-making and business performance.”

Another IBM client benefiting from the ability to ensure the accuracy, consistency and governance of their information within their SOA is Austin Energy. The nation's 10th largest public power utility relies on its SOA to support its utility outage management application and call centre applications.

IBM Global Business Services is offering a new version of the IBM Service Oriented Modeling and Architecture (SOMA) that provides support for Information as a Service.  By providing a blue print for incorporating data integration and master data management within an SOA, the models help organisations further align their architecture with business goals, such as reducing time to open new accounts, by tying business processes to underlying applications and information through services. It does so by incorporating the functionality of IBM Information Server, IBM WebSphere Customer Center, IBM WebSphere Product Center and Rational Data Architect.

To help deliver information consistency throughout an SOA, the new WebSphere Information Analyzer profiles data and understands the quality and content of data sources while also creating a metadata map of source systems, eliminating the risk of reusing bad data throughout the enterprise.  Additionally, new information services activities within IBM WebSphere Process Server readily expose data integration tasks from IBM Information Server so they can be quickly tapped to support a variety of capabilities within business processes. These allow users to easily browse services, view and reuse meta data and ensure efficient interaction between web services and data integration tasks.

The new Enterprise Model Extender for IBM Rational Data Architect helps organisations in the banking, financial markets, insurance, retail, healthcare and telecommunications industries get more value out of the IBM Industry Data Models. These models help accelerate the development of information services within IBM Information Server.