SOA Pays Off for Synovus

SOA Pays Off for Synovus

Governance is key to making project goals work

What does it take to achieve a successful, award-winning SOA implementation? Ask Synovus, a provider of investment services, commercial and retail banking to 35 banks in the south-eastern US. In late September, Synovus won a service-oriented architecture (SOA) case study competition sponsored by the SOA Consortium and CIO magazine. The competition highlighted business success stories and lessons learned for organisations pursuing SOA adoption.

Synovus’ Emerging Business Opportunities division partnered with NACHA, the Electronic Payments Association and eWise, a financial software provider, to create a consumer secure vault payment (SVP) platform for a new Automated Clearing House payment program. The project reduces consumer identity fraud risks; it also gives merchants guaranteed payment from a consumer’s financial institution at lower cost than credit card processing fees.

A key challenge was to pass information securely between the various partners using only Internet technologies. Synovus had to avoid complexity and keep the solution affordable, since merchants and financial institutions had to adopt it quickly and integrate it with their own IT systems.

The company credits its success to SOA’s reliance on industry standards, which enables adoption across disparate languages, operating systems and vendors. “This was critical to our approach because any proprietary implementation would fail,” wrote David Mize, Synovus director of architecture and development, in the winning project submission.

The SVP application uses 19 Web services. Ten were reused from previous SOA implementations, one was acquired from Metavante for processing payments and three came from eWise for switch operations. That left only five Web services for the Synovus development team to build and test. Project organisers judged that the cost and effort, from a Synovus IT Web service standpoint, was 65 percent cheaper than a project from scratch. Each company involved has or is adopting an SOA infrastructure.

Each project participant agreed to build all integration interfaces (WSDL/XSD) using the interface-first approach to Web service development. Synovus could build the SVP Web site and Web services, integrate with vendor interfaces and perform much of the Web site unit testing before the vendors actually delivered their Web services. “This approach saved about two months off a five-month project timeline,” said Mize.

Commonly, consulting firms encourage buying a vendor’s SOA solution as an implementation strategy. This approach creates a few timeline short cuts and reduces risks of the early projects, admitted Mize. “However, we decided to go in a different direction. Past experience shows that although the early projects are successful, the long-term effect is reduced internal knowledge of development and architecture freedom of the system,” he explained. Plus, changes to early implementations are difficult when they are not developed internally.

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