Monster not afraid of SOA

With a mix of Oracle and Microsoft .Net applications, Monster.com has set about the first phase of its SOA implementation, integrating Web services-based job search sites from Indiana to India.

Nine months ago, Joan Lawson started a monster SOA project. To be more specific, she came onboard at Monster Worldwide Inc., parent of job search site Monster.com, in the newly created position of director of global integration architecture.

We had one proof of concept scenario where we were ratcheting up the number of messages.
Joan Lawson
Director of Global Integration ArchitectureMonster Worldwide Inc.

The new job was created because Monster is growing along with the global economy despite its local feel. The Monster.com most job seekers and employers know features employment listing in the U.S. and pinpointed down to the seeker's hometown whether it be San Francisco, Boston or wherever.

But Lawson points out that Monster's reach is now global, serving job seekers and employers around the world. Monster's global network consists of 26 local content and language sites in 24 countries: Belgium, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and Wales.

A decade ago, 26 local Web sites in 24 countries might have seemed a nice diversification server job seekers in all those localities. If you're a Norwegian you looked for a job in Norway. But in the global economy, Lawson explains, it doesn't work that way any more. A Norwegian might want a job in San Francisco and a company in San Francisco might want to recruit computer scientists from Norway.

Monster is getting increasing requests from the international corporations in its client base to be able to post a new position locally, but have it available to job seekers internationally, Lawson said. That meant that the 26 local Web sites needed to be integrated so a job listings or resumes in a database for one site would be available from every site.

"We refer to those as our jobsite platforms," Lawson explained. "The jobsite platforms will expose their capabilities as Web services. We use those Web services to integrate jobs and resumes across the regions. Many of our large employer customers are multi-national companies, so with the global economy today they might post a job and that job might be available to anyone in the world. And they want that job to appear on all of our Web sites."

Where to start this Monster integration project was Lawson's first challenge. She found that Monster is a combination Oracle and Microsoft shop. Oracle databases and Siebel CRM systems, now owned by Oracle, were linked with applications built on the Microsoft .NET platform with Microsoft programming tools.

So she began by evaluating the tools and technology available for SOA.

As she recalled the process, she said: "We looked at Oracle. We looked at Microsoft. We looked at webMethods. The company I was at previously, I brought in webMethods. We also looked at Tibco, CapeClear and Sun SeeBeyond."

After the initial evaluation Oracle and webMethods were chosen to go forward with a proof of concept (POC), Lawson said, having eliminated the other competitors for not having a comprehensive enough suite of products, not properly supporting Web services standards or not providing access to the underlying code.

The ability of Oracle's SOA technology to play well with Microsoft .NET was a key to the selection by the developers that are using both for the integration project, Lawson said.

"Some of the things that came out of the POC were Oracle's ability to interoperate with .NET, as you can imagine that's very important to us," she explained. "Throughput was another. We had one proof of concept scenario where we were ratcheting up the number of messages, Oracle far exceeded webMethods in its ability to do that."

Oracle ended up getting the job.

"The product components were very easy to use, very intuitive," she recalled. "My guys literally stood behind the Oracle people throughout the whole POC process. Oracle was not allowed to do anything that we didn't see."

Bringing together many different countries into one system is not an easy project, as any student of the Roman empire knows. Even with the latest technology, the Monster SOA project could not be built in a day. The project is now in its first phase, integrating the sites in the U.S. to those in Europe.

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"One of the projects in process right now is to integrate all the jobs and resumes between all of our sites," Lawson explain. "That's a project in process. We have an immediate need to do the United States and Europe and then we'll phase in the other countries."

As the initial integration is completed, the team will tackle a more ambitious SOA project.

"The other part of that project is we have a product called Business Gateway, in which our customers do file feeds or place requests to post jobs and get resumes back," she explained. "Business Gateway is the product that manages that. As part of the site integration we are also integrating Business Gateway so that our customers have one point of entry and then we will distribute jobs or post resumes as appropriate. That all becomes transparent to them. They interact with one central access point – in essence a portal – and we do transparent backend integration."

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