New R&D activity part of $450 million commitment to SOA initiative
CHICAGO; July 19, 2006 – Accenture (NYSE: ACN) plans to invest $450 million over the next three years to accelerate the growth of its service-oriented architecture (SOA) capabilities.
The effort, aimed at helping companies realize the full benefits of service-oriented architecture, includes a new R&D lab, a blueprint for SOA implementation, and expanding Accenture’s portfolio of cross-industry offerings.
The goal of the new lab, the Accenture Technology Lab for SOA Innovation, is to accelerate the development of SOA applications customized for specific industries, including healthcare and financial services. The lab’s innovations — including new tools and methods — will help reshape legacy computer systems into applications that deliver the full benefits of a service-oriented architecture. The lab will be a joint effort between all four of Accenture’s research and development facilities, which are located in Chicago, Palo Alto (Calif.), Sophia Antipolis (France) and Bangalore (India).
Accenture has also developed a blueprint for SOA implementation, comprising a scale that divides implementation into four levels. Accenture believes that most SOA initiatives today fall into the first two levels. Maturation begins in the third level, with full benefits realized in level four. The lab will contribute to the development of level-four applications.
“We are developing level-four SOA applications and will use the knowledge gained to improve our methods, processes and tools to help our clients,” said Don Rippert, Accenture’s chief technology officer. “Of course, fundamental computing architectures don’t change overnight. The tipping point in SOA’s evolution will arrive when it allows companies to build solutions assembled from reusable modules.”
SOA refers to a standardized interface between software, enabling an application — typically Web-based — to use the functions or services of another Web-based application. Unlike present-day monolithic applications, SOA-based solutions are assembled from software modules designed to be reused repeatedly. As a result, there’s no need to start from scratch when developing new applications.
One of the primary tasks of the new lab will be building reusable modules by using domain-specific language and model-driven development. In model-driven development, applications are written in business language, instead of computer languages. The domain-specific business language automatically converts it into computer code. The language is designed to be useful for a specific set of business tasks.
Another goal of the lab is to identify potential SOA problems during development and address them before SOA solutions are commercialized. The comprehensive nature of the testing is expected to identify and fix barriers and gaps early on, thereby eventually enabling the implementation of level-four SOA applications.
The lab will initially focus on the healthcare industry, with a pioneering project aimed at integrating the multiple steps of filling a prescription, which include credit-checking, billing code generation, and risk assessment. The “e-prescription” project seeks to prove the feasibility of such SOA solutions using software and tools available today. “If this or similar projects aren’t possible, we want our clients to know,” said Rippert.
Accenture’s SOA portfolio of cross-industry offerings are designed to better enable clients to evolve their SOA environment to the fourth — and most-industrialized — phase. Several of these offerings have already been implemented and are delivering results to clients today.
One example is the Accenture SOA Assessment and Roadmap offering, which is designed to help businesses and organizations define prudent, immediate steps toward creating a solid business case to demonstrate likely benefits of SOA. Among other things, this offering bundles Accenture’s cross-industry SOA experience with assessment models, diagnostics and a roadmap starter kit to provide IT and business executives with the practical analytical tools to help them understand their readiness and gaps and then identify and prioritize SOA initiatives.
“In our work on more than 250 SOA-related engagements with clients, we take a pragmatic approach to SOA as a business problem, not just a technology issue," said David Nichols, an executive partner and the global SOA lead in Accenture’s Technology & Delivery group. “That’s one reason why our new lab is focusing on real, industry-specific applications. The lab’s findings will add to Accenture’s delivery assets and service offerings, forming the foundation for our SOA capabilities.”
Other elements of Accenture’s SOA initiative include the Experimental Software Environment. It will be used as a test bed in the Accenture Technology Lab for SOA Innovation, running experiments on SOA and software and comparing open source and commercial development.
“The initiative announced today consolidates the aggressive SOA strategy Accenture has long been pursuing,” said Rippert. ”We look forwarding to bringing our industry knowledge to bear on SOA and sharing the results with our clients.”
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 133,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$15.55 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2005. Its home page is www.accenture.com.