“Agile Government” through Integration by Jim Hagemann Snabe*

By : |September 29, 2005 0

Administrations need to become more innovative and more cost-efficient. Therefore, modernization of IT is really mandatory. Service Oriented Architectures (SOA), currently under intense discussion, will play an important role in the future here as they allow step-by-step innovation on the basis of existing applications. 

The requirements for advanced administration are demanding: Administration processes should not only become more transparent, but also more efficient, more streamlined and therefore more cost-efficient. This results in high pressure on the IT landscapes of the public sector. The demand from industry and the general public for more service and less bureaucracy is driving the modernization of public administration considerably. 

Modernity, however, is not created on mere theoretical grounds. Nobody can catapult an administration overnight into the digital era. What is needed is a continuous reforming process. The foundation of comprehensive e-government solutions should be created on the basis of flexible software architectures and platforms, which can integrate existing systems – as discarding them for cost reasons alone is not possible. 

Overcoming the heterogeneity of existing system landscapes through integration and carrying out comprehensive mapping of the respective processes and technical methods has become a practicable route in the meantime. This is possible through the use of Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA) that can adapt to the changes of process concepts. The Enterprise Services Architecture from SAP is an example of the development of such architectures. The advantage being that technical methods 
and processes are not replaced by completely new solutions, but existing processes are integrated and extended. 

In service-oriented architectures existing and new applications are provided in the form of Web services. These comprise the functionalities of existing applications and can be combined to form new, cross-function business processes. Specific scenarios can be mapped in composite applications without replacing existing systems. This allows the functionality and information from existing systems, such as technical methods, personnel administrations or office applications, to be combined. 

Similar to an architect who needs a foundation for building a house, a technical platform is required to create service-based software solutions. SAP NetWeaver provides a technical foundation for the Enterprise Services Architecture. The platform is the foundation for SAP for Public Services, the total solution for the public sector. Interaction between individual SAP NetWeaver modules ranges from the application platform and information and business processes to the application layer. Integration Broker SAP XI allows communication between application components from different sources, creates cross-component processes and defines interfaces, mapping and routing rules on the basis of open standards. 

The Enterprise Services Architecture provides investment protection for the present and for the future and helps public organizations to increase the value of their existing heterogeneous IT environments. It creates more service and less bureaucracy and at the same time reduces costs. At SAP we call this approach “Agile Government”. This term stands for flexibility plus quick reaction – and for something that is called added value in private industry. 

Government agencies on the way to Enterprise Services Architecture
A number of SAP customers from the public sector are already using main components from SAP NetWeaver and are thus laying the foundation for a service oriented architecture. These include, for example, the Swiss Federal Agency for Buildings and Logistics (Schweizer Bundesamt für Bauten und Logistik), Bern , the state of Upper Austria (Land Oberösterreich) with its head offices in Linz , the Hessian Department of the Interior (Hessische Ministerium des Inneren) in Wiesbaden or the Federal Department of Defense (Bundesministerium für Verteidigung) in Berlin. The Enterprise Portal and the Business-Warehouse components from SAP NetWeaver are used primarily. The portal facilitates user-friendly access to information from SAP and third-party systems, while Business Warehouse allows for central data analysis on the basis of various operational systems. In this way system complexity can be significantly reduced. SAP XI, the component mostly used after Enterprise Portal and Business Warehouse, is also used to integrate business processes. Applications are not only combined on a surface but a business process is actually linked on application level. Public organizations realize the necessity of taking essential steps towards “innovation by integration” and are therefore moving towards Enterprise Services Architecture.

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