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3. Applications Architecture

The software infrastructure that provides the foundation for modern business applications continues to mirror business requirements more directly. The modularity and agility offered by service oriented architecture at the technology level and business process management at the business level will continue to evolve through high impact shifts such as model-driven and event-driven architectures, and corporate semantic web.

Technologies rated as having particularly high impact include:

Event-driven Architecture (EDA) is an architectural style for distributed applications, in which certain discrete functions are packaged into modular, encapsulated, shareable components, some of which are triggered by the arrival of one or more event objects.

Event objects may be generated directly by an application, or they may be generated by an adapter or agent that operates non-invasively (for example, by examining message headers and message contents). EDA has an impact on every industry.

Although mainstream adoption of all forms of EDA is still five to 10 years away, complex-event processing EDA is now being used in financial trading, energy trading, supply chain, fraud detection, homeland security, telecommunications, customer contact centre management, logistics and sensor networks, such as those based on RFID.

Model-driven Architecture is a registered trademark of the Object Management Group (OMG). It describes OMG's proposed approach to separating business-level functionality from the technical nuances of its implementation.

The premise behind OMG's Model-Driven Architecture and the broader family of model-driven approaches (MDAs) is to enable business-level functionality to be modelled by standards, such as Unified Modeling Language (UML) in OMG's case; allow the models to exist independently of platform-induced constraints and requirements; and then instantiate those models into specific runtime implementations, based on the target platform of choice. MDAs reinforce the focus on business first and technology second.

The concepts focus attention on modelling the business: business rules, business roles, business interactions and so on. The instantiation of these business models in specific software applications or components flows from the business model. By reinforcing the business-level focus and coupling MDAs with SOA concepts, you end up with a system that is inherently more flexible and adaptable.

Corporate Semantic Web applies semantic web technologies, also known as semantic mark-up languages (for example, Resource Description Framework, Web Ontology Language and topic maps), to corporate web content.

Although mainstream adoption is still five to 10 years away, many corporate IT areas are starting to engage in semantic web technologies. Early adopters are in the areas of enterprise information integration, content management, life sciences and government.

Corporate Semantic Web promises to reduce costs and improve the quality of content management, information access, system interoperability, database integration and data quality.

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