Small and medium businesses: we simply don't need SOA

With a bare-bones IT operation, who has the time or inclination to worry about reusable services?

Loraine Lawson recently delivered some disturbing news for SOA proponents everywhere -- revealing the results of a recent informal survey that showed that a majority of mid-market CIOs "said they had no current business need for SOA," which was roughly twice as many as said they had deployed SOA.

In bare-bones IT operations, SOA may be an unnecessary luxury

Loraine said two CIOs she spoke with seemed jaded by all the SOA hype over the years, noting that "they believed the concept was a sales tactic for selling them something they didn't need – and were already doing with modular programming."

One CIO already had an IBM System i running the business (which I still prefer to call AS/400, thank you).  Small wonder their needs are met -- AS/400 is the most underrated machine ever made, and always at least a decade ahead of its time.

Nevertheless, Loraine correctly points out that these CIOs that reject SOA have small, bare-bones IT operations. In many ways, SOA is still a luxury for well-endowed organizations with sizeable IT staffs. When it comes to running the business at ground level day to day, you need to do what needs to be done -- forget about mucking around with creating reusable "services."

Another factor is that business managers -- particularly in smaller organizations -- aren't exactly banging on CIOs' doors demanding SOA. They want profitable results and information on what's selling and not selling.

Of course, the mid-market is the prime candidate for cloud computing, and this is where the value of service orientation will ultimately be realized, on an enterprise-to-enterprise scale. But for applications within the infrastructures of smaller enterprises, SOA is still beyond reach.

Still, the more a business of any size can service orient, the better. SOA is an extension of enterprise architecture, and EA is important at any level. Let's not forget what Mike Kavis and Brenda Michelson told us a few months back -- that enterprise architecture is just as important for small businesses as larger ones. Remember, just as is the case with SOA in an ideal world, enterprise archictecture is not about jumbo frameworks and rigid governance, it's about creating a set of values and practices for capability delivery. If anything, smaller companies may need a master plan to guide ongoing technology projects more than a large organization that can afford to waste money on shelfware or underutilized systems.

So EA and service orientation is applicable for all size companies -- especially as smaller companies become more involved in the cloudsphere.

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