Throughout its history, UML has meant many things to many people. Its biggest general use is as a form of notation.
Some hot-shot coders would like it left at that, but UML tools have in fact evolved to support code generation. Its wide support has made UML a lingua franca for modeling.
This ubiquity of UML in modeling helps a vendor like IBM when it acquires companies. For example, it recently acquired System Architect tools along with its purchase of Telelogic. Soon thereafter, IBM announced the integration of the System Architect 11.1 enterprise architecture and business modeling set with Telelogic Change 5.0 software for problem tracking, change request and workflow management. Certainly, UML support helps System Architect hook into this and a variety of other modeling technologies in the IBM portfolio.
This integration was said to promote governance of enterprise architecture projects, including service-oriented architecture undertakings. The two-way integration between System Architect and Tau is emblematic of how models can be shared between business and IT departments.
Just this week IBM discussed links between what it now calls IBM Telelogic System Architect and Rational Software Architect. A new Web client supports dashboard views that give executives a view on IT portfolios and projects.
When deploying a SOA, tools like System Architect can help an organization better understand risk, according to Andrew Jensen, manager product marketing, Telelogic, IBM. He said the tool set improves communication within the enterprise, and allows harvesting of information about the state of present technology portfolio, as well as planning for future states.
"Different domains have different people and they do different modeling," he said, admitting that System Architect itself has evolved to cover different domains since its first inception at Popkin Software (purchased by Telelogic in 2005).
"System Architect at one point was used as a CASE tool, whether it was data modeling or [application] modeling," said Jenson. At the time the whole concept of enterprise architecture was being developed [the company then known as Popkin] took different models sets and built a repository around this."
Jensen said lessons learned in early SOA development have shown the value of enterprise architecture tools.
"SOA is becoming one of the more important application types of enterprise architecture," he said. "What was found as SOA was deployed in the beginning was that it was deployed as a technology. It was deployed but it might not have had the right match of technology and business needs."
"Enterprise architecture is about understanding the different layers of the organization and establishing the link between business and IT. It allows you to see what would make good services," said Jensen.
"Reuse is a big value of both 'EA' and SOA," he said. "When you understand the present environment using enterprise architecture [tools], then you can find where similar services exist, and where they can be reused.
The Telelogic purchase is just one of many indicators that IBM, among others, sees modeling and architecture as a means to achieve better SOA development and integration outcomes.