Will SOA force the IT value issue?

For years, businesses, consultants, conference speakers, and ordinary Joes like me have wrestled with the question of how IT departments can best bring value to their organizations. Will SOA do the trick?

For years, businesses, consultants, conference speakers, and ordinary Joes like me have wrestled with the question of how IT departments can best bring value to their organizations. The best formula to date has been to parcel up IT work on a chargeback basis providing service to internal clients and occasional outside entities. Technology is a cost of doing business, so let's make sure the biggest consumers pay the greatest share.

Will SOA finally cause organizations to look at IT as more than a cost of doing business? I'm sure by now that you've read countless articles and heard countless seminar speakers say, yes, yes, yes, the time has finally come, and IT will no longer be an albatross (in the eyes of corporate management) and take it's rightful place as the great deliverer of business value in the 21st Century.

But it seems this great revelation has not reached the C-level offices yet. Perhaps the message is still on its way via snail mail.

In a new post, AMR Research's Dennis Gaughan spells out how SOA is bringing business value to IT operations. He predicts that SOA will ultimately force improvements in processes, and notes that SOA will raise end-user expectations for speedy delivery of new applications. IT managers will have to learn to say "no," he says: "Learning to say no to things based upon real business information may be the most important competency a service-centric IT organization can have."

To get from here to there, Gaughan identifies some key areas of IT governance that will need change:

  • Investment planning — SOA blends new and existing investments. "This will force a change in how we build the business case for these investments; how we prioritize; and how we measure benefits since most current portfolio management processes are designed to support long-term projects."
  • Software development — SOA will move application creation away from craftsman-style development to more of an assembly line approach.
  • Change management — SOA will bring more flexibility, making it possible to "update one part of the composite application without breaking the whole."
  • Maintenance and operations — SOA may introduce more challenges here, since "a composite application will potentially be distributed across the infrastructure and even outside the firewall where you have little or no control on the performance characteristics of a service."
  • Security — A new model for application security will be required, Gaughan says.

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