SOA Obituary

SOA is dead. Long live SOA

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IDC has just declared that SOA is live and kicking. A little over a year ago, Burton Group blogger Anne Thomas Manes wrote a damning obituary of SOA. The IDC projections ironically prove her right. The way SOA was practised is dead, but the services-orientation of IT architecture has gained momentum in the last one year. Further, SOA-style thinking is reshaping management. Whether SOA is live or not, the debate is far from dead. It has just taken a new turn.

IDC has just declared that SOA is live and kicking.

Network World
has quoted an IDC Vice President
Ruediger Spies saying SOA market will grow by up to 25 percent
worldwide by 2013.

Between 2008 and 2013, SOA spending in the Americas will expand
by 24.7 percent, EMEA will see a 24 percent growth and Asia Pacific
will see a 23.2 percent growth, says Spies. 

A little over a year ago, Burton Group blogger
Anne Thomas Manes
wrote a damning obituary of SOA.

“Except in rare situations, SOA has failed to deliver its
promised benefits. After investing millions, IT systems are no
better than before… The people holding the purse strings have had
enough,” she wrote setting of a raging debate in the
industry. 

The IDC projections ironically prove her right. The way SOA was
practised – adding another expensive technological layer on top of
unwieldy and discrete jigsaw IT pieces, with no improvement in
sight  – is dead.

But as Manes predicted, the services-orientation of IT
architecture has gained momentum in the last one year. The IT
conversation has shifted to Cloud, BPM and SaaS, but these trends
embody the same architectural ideals cherished by SOA – to create
modular, agile and loosely coupled IT architecture which can be
plugged-in at will.

Besides, delivering on the services promise, Manes wrote, SOA
needs to be part of a bigger picture. And this where the SOA story
has got more intriguing.

Thanks to the recession, enterprises have come under pressure to
promote agility across areas of operations, not just IT.
Service-Oriented Approach, an offshoot of SOA, gives them
the precise frameworks and tools needed to make this
transformation.

Noted blogger
Joe McKendrick
says SOA-style thinking is reshaping
management. “The problem with SOA, they say, is that it has become
too closely associated with IT. It needs to be seen for what it is
— a bona fide business philosophy,” he opined in a post
recently.

A Deloitte paper,
quoted by McKendrick, says Service Oriented (Business) Architecture
will help enterprises build required capabilities through
‘manageable, independent, interoperable pieces’.

The new thinking makes logical sense, but runs the same risk of
hype and failure, which consumed SOA. The same forces, which made
SOA fail in IT departments, may undermine its variants at the
larger enterprise level.

Enterprises would have to have to learn from past experiences,
define their goals sharply and try their own home-grown solutions
to achieve them, rather than following fashionable blueprints or
straitjacket solutions

A revisionist definition from tech evangelist J P
Morgenthal
says SOA is more of a concept than an
architectural approach. On the road to adoption “…Each organization
may ultimately need to tailor the general concepts into something
that is different from organization to organization…” he says.

He concludes his influential post with a pertinent question: Is
SOA really architecture, or is it simply a strategy for business
transformation?

Whether SOA is alive or not, the debate is far from dead. It has
just taken a new turn.

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