Service-oriented architecture, known as SOA to its friends, has become the darling buzzword of the software industry. Touted as a way to increase IT efficiency and reduce technology costs, interest in SOA has grown by leaps and bounds.
Now, a survey released by Nucleus Research finds that most SOA projects have not achieved a positive ROI. According to Nucleus:
Only 37 percent of companies have achieved a positive return on their SOA investments.
Further findings suggest that while SOA drives developer productivity, it often ends with the project or department – limiting the ability for broad-based adoption, impacting return on investment (ROI).
“In addition to the historical lack of ROI, several other factors contribute to SOA slow adoption rate,” said David O’Connell, senior analyst at Nucleus Research. For example, developers often view themselves as creators of code and applications and shun SOA because it forces them to reuse code generated by others.”
“There are a handful of SOA success stories out there — but not many. If, and when, the vendor community reallocates some of their SOA marketing funds and uses them to build the application layer, then we’ll see widespread SOA adoption and reuse,” continued O’Connell.
Hmmm. Doesn't this ROI issue run counter to the very premise underlying why SOA is supposedly so great? To find out, I asked my colleague Ian Grant-Smith, Chairman and CEO of BAP Global Solutions, a SOA solutions provider based in London, for an informed opinion on this issue:
Senior executives constantly hear about the business benefits of SOA, but they aren't seeing results. System integrators make elaborate SOA sales pitches, but quality-assured ROI often isn't there. While assuring ROI is not easy, it can be achieved by implementing a consistent SOA governance framework. Promises are not enough and executives are right to be unhappy.
The takeaway: if you're considering a SOA project, meticulously plan ROI right from the start. Assuming your project rests on a solid business case, careful management will help protect that all-important business payback.
[Via fellow ZDNet blogger Joe McKendrick]