What is SOAP vs. WLA?
Explore the differences between two of the most popular types of automation.
When searching for an automation solution, there are a lot of different acronyms to sift through and compare. Two of those in particular, SOAP and WLA, are often talked about relative to each other, but it’s not always made clear how these two types of automation solutions differ.
In order to understand the distinction, it’s important to first break down what a WLA solution is as SOAPs are the next evolution of WLA platforms.
What is WLA?
WLA stands for workload automation, and it’s a software-enabled method of scheduling, initiating, and executing specific business processes and transactions. This type of automation is more comprehensive than traditional job scheduling software because it focuses on event-driven processing rather than time-driven batch processing that, historically, required manual execution by those in IT due to the complex nature of batch processing.
WLA solutions allow automation administrators to translate manual processes into event-driven workflows across a variety of applications in on-prem, and sometimes cloud, environments. They come with advanced alerting capabilities that allow you to act on issues only if they arise, so you don’t have to dedicate IT staff time to monitoring your automated processes. If there’s an issue, WLA solutions can notify you, point you to the problem, pause that process, or even reverse it until you have the chance to remedy the issue.
As a result, with a WLA solution, you can:
- Streamline or eliminate many manual tasks.
- Enable smart scaling of your business, without adding headcount.
- Get time back to focus on strategic growth initiatives.
- Achieve a better quality of life for your IT staff by eliminating or reducing after-hours, third-shift, and weekend operations.
- Dramatically reduce or eliminate errors from processing.
- Achieve better regulatory compliance.
- Support and improve your disaster recovery and business continuity planning practices.
- Remain competitive in the market.
- Improve your customer, member, and employee experience.
What is SOAP?
SOAP stands for service orchestration and automation platform. SOAPs combine all the functionality and features of a WLA solution with additional capabilities that enable even greater operational efficiency and automation management.
Specifically, in addition to the capabilities of a WLA solution, SOAPs provide:
- Event-driven automation that can manage very complex, end-to-end workflows, going beyond a task-only approach to automation.
- Comprehensive workflow orchestration that allows administrators to automate processes across various disparate systems, servers, mainframes, and machines in a hybrid IT environment.
- Enhanced workflow monitoring and alerting capabilities, as well as detailed ROI reporting and drill-down functionality, that allows administrators to get ahead of workflow issues before they become problems and share in real time how automated processes positively impact the business as a whole.
- On-demand resource provisioning that allows administrators to automate the process of setting up IT infrastructure and managing data and resources.
- Citizen-led or self-service automation that enables those outside of IT or without technical expertise to implement and orchestrate their own automation with minimal coding required, if any.
- Extract/transform/load (ETL) and other data management capabilities that allow you to pull data from your production systems and upload it to a data warehouse in a common format, so it can be read and analyzed.
As a result, SOAPs can take workload automation to the next level and make your business intelligence (BI) tools more powerful.
Determining which solution is right for you
Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all automation solution on the market, it’s important to evaluate different solutions by first determining what type of automation you need. The best way to determine that is to identify the pain point(s) that you’re trying to solve with automation. Think about that persisting problem or error-prone process that’s taking up inordinate amounts of staff time that you think could be automated.
Then, evaluate the features that different automation solutions have to offer. Look for the solution that will satisfy your immediate and long-term business goals, budget, and automation needs. A SOAP like OpCon that combines the best that WLA has to offer with the benefits of workflow orchestration might be the right solution for your business.
Evaluate automation solutions beyond their features
Whether you’re considering a WLA solution, SOAP, or other type of automation, be sure to evaluate automation solutions beyond just the features they provide. While you want to make sure those features align with your automation needs, you also want to consider each vendor’s pricing model, product reviews, company reputation, industry expertise, support services, training programs, and more. Ultimately, you want to find a vendor that can serve you for the long haul as your automation needs and business evolve and as your industry grows more competitive. That vendor may offer a WLA solution, a SOAP, or something else. You get to decide which one is right you.