Is SOA a threat to IT jobs?

If service-oriented architecture lives up to its promises, it will drastically cut integration and development costs. Multiple IT departments across enterprises will be rendered redundant as applications are built with reusable, already-built services.

If service-oriented architecture lives up to its promises, it will drastically cut integration and development costs. Multiple IT departments across enterprises will be rendered redundant as applications are built with reusable, already-built services.

The most immediate value proposition of SOA, then, is to cut large swaths of developer time. With all these new efficiencies, should developers and IT people be worried about their career prospects? 

Dave Linthicum says there's nothing to worry about, there will be plenty of work to go around. As far as developers being put out of jobs by greater efficiencies, he's heard it all before:

"We've been considering the demise of the developer during many 'hype phases' over the last 15 years. This included the 'component development' phase where I heard not one, but three software executives, in keynote speeches, talk about how 'applications would be assembled like Ford assembles cars, from pre-built component parts,' thus, the need for fewer developers. Same goes for the distributed object phase, the intranet phase, and now here we are in the SOA phase."

And, as far as SOA is concerned, it's way to early to worry about potential job losses, he adds. "It's something that really has not happened yet."

Dave adds that opportunities will abound, even after SOA really starts to take off. "The use of services over the Internet will create a new generation of developers who build services for applications they'll never see. They build portions of applications for use in many applications as services, typically delivered over the Web, and that industry will be huge."

Some additional thoughts on this: I agree with Dave that SOA is not a threat, and it will most likely shift IT jobs away from specialized platforms (e.g., mainframe, Unix, Oracle, etc.) to more standardized skillsets that are more portable across various parts of the enterprise. The greatest threat on the horizon is automation, which is already diminishing the need for more grunt-level tasks, and will keep moving upstream.

Inevitably, IT professionals will be less involved in systems administration and assume far greater roles as business consultants, as businesses will rely even more on IT. SOA is paving the way to this, as SOA methodologies call for greater interaction and input from the business.

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