Virtualization as a key component for SOA enabling
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OBJECTIVES Service oriented architecture (SOA) is frequently recognized as an approach to enhance the business value of IT, in particular for its potential to enable more flexible IT infrastructures and organizational interoperability. Traditionally SOA has been subjected to misconceptions, hence has yet to fulfill its potential in large scale. Change management and security has proven to be among the most significant challenges related to SOA enabling of IT infrastructures. Virtualization technology has emerged as a potential solution to these challenges. The objectives of this Master's thesis are to promote understanding of SOA, analyze how change management, security and interoperability can be improved using virtualization technology, and to identify potential advantages and disadvantages by such an integration approach. RESEARCH METHOD The objectives have been addressed through a literature study and a practical part. Knowledge regarding SOA and previous work on the convergence between SOA and virtualization were obtained through the literature study. The practical part was devoted to demonstrating how change management, security and interoperability can be improved using virtualization technology. Conceptual virtualization approaches uncovered in the literature study was compared to features of SAP Netweaver Virtual Directory Server, an identity management solution based on virtualization technology, to provide a basis for discussion. Since a real IT infrastructure suitable to the purpose could not be found, the practical part was carried out in the context of made up IT infrastructure adapted from Thomas Erl's "Service-Oriented Architecture: Concepts, Technology, and Design". RESULTS The only standardized definition of SOA is provided by OASIS: "SOA is a paradigm for organizing and utilizing distributed capabilities that may be under the control of different ownership domains". Distributed IT resources can be exposed as loosely coupled and reusable services potentially enabling business agility, organizational interoperability and other SOA advantages organizations might desire. SOA experts emphasize the importance of understanding SOA in the context of the SOA enabling organization, hence SOA enabling involves careful planning and design efforts to build a SOA platform that enables the desired advantages based on the existing IT infrastructure. Virtualization improves interoperability through basic transformation and routing capabilities through an abstraction layer. Security and change management relies on the centralized nature of the abstraction layer. The former can be improved if the abstraction layer provides security capabilities such as access control, auditing and encryption, whereas the latter ideally requires the abstraction layer to act as an service container that hosts the services and provide lifecycle operations. Virtualization technology can enable SOA advantages by supporting principles of service orientation, however might affect performance negatively.