Beware the 'Facebook Effect' when service-orienting information technology

Summary:Experiences seen with Facebook provide a fair warning to shared-service providers in enterprises.

JP Morgenthal, who has been pouring healthy doses of reality checks into the SOA zeitgeist for a number of years now, says he has been seeing the beginnings of a disturbing trend as of late: developers and users alike stuck with an irretractable service, in which interfaces and other services have grown deep roots.

JP calls this the "Facebook Effect." Essentially, while comparable or better alternatives may exist for various services on the online market, "Facebook, as a service, is seemingly entrenched to a point where it cannot be unseated." The net result, as JP puts it:

"The user has invested in customizing the service to a point where it is extremely painful to recreate in a completely separate service."

As the service foundation within an enterprise matures and gains traction, "users will start to invest their time in building connections with and automating their processes around the service. This will greatly limit enterprise IT’s ability to arbitrarily change the service in a way that impacts the user."

Building a highly adaptable shared-service layer -- in which any and all interfaces and services can be swapped out on a moment's notice -- has always been the ultimate ideal of SOA. Of course, most organizations, saddled with various vendors' platforms and legacy and post-legacy systems, aren't there yet. And, as outside-the-firewall cloud-based services get mixed into the equation, lock-in -- be it with a vendor or with a particular class of services -- becomes even more of an issue. Many cloud engagements, in fact, may be easy to get into, but incredibly messy and expensive to back out of.

With most Facebook apps, it's just an inconvenience for the consumer to make a switch, with no real money lost. With critical business processes hooked to one service or another, it's a different story. That's why good enterprise architecture and planning really make a difference.

Topics: Social Enterprise, CXO

About

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. Joe is co-author, along with 16 leading industry leaders and thinkers, of the SOA Manifesto, which outlines the values and guiding principles of service orientation. He speaks frequently on cloud, SOA, data, and... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.