The Open Group Conference London 2011
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The Canonical Data Zone: Issues in data selection for Service Oriented Architectures

Gary Farrow
IT Architect/Director, Triari Consulting

This presentation introduces the concept of the 'Canonical Data Zone' in Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) solutions.

The canonical data zone is defined as that portion of a service oriented architecture framework that operates using a common data format within its service operation and supporting data architecture.

The benefits of adopting an enterprise wide canonical data format are discussed, namely:

  • Support for channel harmonisation, this being the goal of a single common business process irrespective of the delivery channel;
  • Vastly simplified IT architecture, enabling a common solution within the canonical zone.

The canonical data zone boundary is illustrated in terms of the specific layers a SOA Reference Architecture that use the common data format. The issues in selecting an appropriate canonical data format for an enterprise are then described, specifically the suitability open, industry and custom standards for use as the canonical data form.

Finally, the architectural implications of operating the IT enterprise using a canonical data zone are highlighted. These are:

  • The need to have an enterprise integration service capable of efficient transformation to and from the canonical data format;
  • Recognition of the need to support different integration patterns for connections between the canonical and non-canonical architecture zones.
  • Recognition of need for an integration architecture that is optimised to support these different patterns.

In conclusion, employing a canonical data zone and associated format selection is shown to be a vital consideration for any major enterprise SOA initiative.

Gary FarrowGary Farrow is a Solution Architect with over 20 years' experience.  He has undertaken senior architect roles at major banks and financial services firms and led many successful, high value IT programmes.

TRIARIGary has broad expertise in large scale systems integration, enterprise service bus architectures and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and deep domain specialism in payments systems. He has published many articles on SOA and payments processing and presented at major international conferences.

He is a Member of the IET, a Chartered Engineer&  Open Group Master Certified Architect. Holds BSc, MSc&  PhD degrees and a Certificate in Business Administration.  Gary also has a role on the Open Group's IT Architecture Certification Board and is an Associate Lecturer in e-Business Technologies at the Open University, UK.

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