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Service Factory as a Service (SFaaS)

A strategic approach to support enterprise transformation for digital business

The service factory concept has been in vogue for some time. As long ago as July 1989 the Harvard Business Review published a seminal article by Chase and Garvin titled The Service Factory[i]. They argued that "The factory of the future is not a place where computers, robots, and flexible machines do the drudge work . . . the next generation, then, will compete by bundling services with products, anticipating and responding to a truly comprehensive range of customer needs."

SF as a Black Box

In this paper we explore the concept of the Service Factory as a Service (SFaaS) which provisions software services delivered on-demand using the SaaS (Software as a Service) model. As Chase and Garvin envisaged, the Service Factory as a Service is a combination of technology products that deliver very high quality and productivity, combined with professional services that integrate the factory inputs and outputs into the digital business solution delivery process.

The service factory is a specialization of a generic software factory concept described by Greenfield and Short et al  in 2004. Both software and service factory concepts are based on the principle that the inputs and deliverables of the design and development tasks can be predetermined and defined as a schema - a detailed representation of the information that is created and managed in the development process. Further that the execution of each task may be automated to a greater or lesser extent by applying configurable patterns that facilitate transformations, such as models to code, with minimum human intervention. As might be expected, the internals of a factory are therefore specialized. They use technologies and techniques that the average solution developer would not need to be familiar with. In fact the principle of the factory, as illustrated in the Figure above is that it is operated as a black box and for a given specification input, deployable services are output.

Concept

Chase and Garvin indicated that the factory of the future would anticipate and respond to a comprehensive range of customer needs. The base factory schema provides the development framework that is designed to meet generic types of demand. In the case of the service factory this may be types of software services, such as channel, process, core business and underlying services for publication using popular service protocols such as REST and SOAP, and deployment to specific target platforms such as Java. The factory is effectively a collection of framework assets including patterns, tools, processes, skills and resources, as well as reusable artifacts that enable the quality and productivity outcomes. The factory schema may then be configured for specific customers to deliver variant types of service, pattern, protocol or target platform. Service delivery then uses the configured schema to deliver software services together with specifications, test harnesses and documentation.

There are several examples of software factory frameworks available in the marketplace. These are intended as accelerators for end user or service provider enterprises to create their own software factory. The real breakthrough, however, is to establish a type of software factory which is purpose-designed for software services, and to make this available on-demand as a comprehensive service factory as envisaged by Chase and Garvin.

The Figure below illustrates the "as a Service" aspect of the Everware-CBDI Service Factory, providing on demand provisioning of software services to conventional, in-house and outsourced solution delivery processes. The service provisioning value chain of specification, automation and completion interacts with the solution delivery streams using purpose designed portals and APIs that coordinate the exchange of requirements and deliverables.  Professional services support the set-up and smooth running of the factory interface. Set-up activities will usually establish the customer relationships and process interactions with the service factory provider or, for larger programs or enterprises, the establishment of an in-house service factory. The architecture, service specification and design and integration support professional services are provided to guide the client in achieving high quality outcomes from the process as well as providing skills transfer, facilitation and mentoring as appropriate.

SFaaS

The full version of this paper is available at agileservicefactory.com


[i] The Service Factory, Chase, Garvin, Harvard Business Review, July 1989

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David Sprott is a consultant, researcher and educator specializing in service oriented architecture, application modernization and cloud computing. Since 1997 David founded and led the well known think tank CBDI Forum providing unique research and guidance around loose coupled architecture, technologies and practices to F5000 companies and governments worldwide. As CEO of Everware-CBDI International a UK based corporation, he directs the global research and international consulting operations of the leading independent advisors on Service Oriented Application Modernization.

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