What is SOA?
If you’ve started your enterprise resource planning research, you have likely come across the term “service-oriented architecture,” or SOA. You probably saw this term either briefly mentioned in a white paper as an advantage of a particular software vendor or in a highly technical document explaining the intricacies of SOA that went way over your head. Service-oriented architecture really is crucial to gaining a software instance that will enable visibility and flexibility throughout your enterprise and deserves a complete definition and explanation of its benefits that manufacturers and distributors don’t need a computer science degree to comprehend. In the rest of this piece, we intend to do just that, starting with a definition of SOA and then getting into the advantages of implementing an ERP instance built from service-oriented architecture.
Before we describe what service-oriented architecture is, we need to start with the term “service.” Fortunately, this concept is easy to grasp, as it originates in the business world, where companies and people offer to perform a service in exchange for money. Developers adopted this idea to create software services, which are repeatable business activities performed by a software program for the system’s users. Examples of services include invoicing and shipping as well as managing orders. These services can be deployed on-premises or over the web. Service-oriented architecture connects various applications and services and facilitates the sharing of data in one system.
Flexibility for a Connected Enterprise
With a basic definition in place, we can now dig into the advantages of SOA. The advantage that is touted the most is the increased flexibility. Service-oriented architecture consists of a service layer between the front end (also known as the presentation layer or the user interface) and the back end (the layer which handles business logic and data storage). Because the services constitute a separate layer, changes can be made to your ERP system without digging into source code and logic, making the software adaptable to changing business needs.
Since SOA enables your system to support your company’s distinct business processes without modifying the source code, businesses can easily upgrade their software instance without worrying about extensive customizations. With SOA, businesses can reuse services or software modules instead of writing new ones, reducing costs and extending the life of legacy systems. Additionally, SOA supports integration between systems, allowing businesses to enjoy streamlined processes. This is a far cry from monolithic ERP systems, which are too rigid to enable smooth modifications.
In addition to being inflexible, large software platforms silo information, slowing down processes and failing to support collaboration and visibility. Service-orientation, in contrast, facilitates the exchange of information throughout your enterprise. This results from the service granularity of the software. Fine-grained services, provided through SOA, break down top-level business functions into individual services. Such granularity promotes collaboration and end-to-end business processes. SOA enables a high level of flexibility and transparency that is invaluable for manufacturers and distributors.
Epicor is the pioneer of service-oriented architecture for enterprise software, distinguishing itself as the first vendor to provide a fully SOA-based ERP system and constructing its solutions using best practices for service-oriented design. At Datix, we know the necessity of using flexible, robust ERP systems to drive business in the mid-market. An Epicor Platinum Partner, Datix has extensive experience in offering successful Epicor ERP solutions as well as software integrations. Unity, our one-of-a-kind integration platform, connects Epicor with your choice of a variety of software to create a single source of truth that further streamlines business processes. Besides our innovative solutions, Datix has the sharpest minds in software consulting to support your business throughout your software journey.
Still have questions about SOA and Epicor? Get in touch with Datix today to discuss all things ERP!