Needed: 'five times' as many SOA architects as we now have

Needed: 'five times' as many SOA architects as we now have

Summary: Not enough skills, not enough budget. Time to get resourceful about SOA.


Forget all the negativity we've been hearing about SOA over the past year. Forget all the negativity in the headlines about today's economy.

Demand for SOA-related skills is hot, and getting hotter among organizations.

The squeeze is on -- not enough skills, not enough budget. Time to get resourceful about SOA

Rich Seeley spoke to David Foote, who tracks demand levels for IT skills, who related that SOA is driving demand for IT professionals with skills and certifications. As Foote put it: "Most companies we talk to have architects, but they need five times as many."

In particular, organizations are hungry for the skills of SOA architects that know how to align SOA-enabling technologies with business requirements and culture. As Foote put it:

"Companies are willing to pay a lot of money to find and develop that talent. I think SOA has really pushed this because companies realize you need people with architecture skill sets to do this well."

There are several different levels of SOA architects -- from more technical and integration focused to more business savvy. Organizations need architects that fall somewhere in between, according to Foote. This is a point I've heard from many other sources as well. For example, this was the hottest point of discussion at this summer's Open Group enterprise architect confab -- that businesses need talented managers who can speak both the languages of the business and IT.

So, in the meantime, organizations are caught in a squeeze --tight budgets on one end, and skills shortages on the other.  I've talked about this in previous posts -- how a combination of woes results in some very busy and overstressed IT shops. We may find that IT and SOA professionals will continue to be asked to do more and more with less and less, without additional staff resources.

As a result, we will see an ongoing juggling act (with knives and torches thrown in), and some projects will get dropped to the floor. Some SOA projects — even those that don’t cost too much — may simply be relegated to the bottom of the priority list because of lack of time, and lack of perceived urgency. But this inability to adequately staff and fund SOA projects is something we’d see even in a booming economy. In essence, SOA success will go to the resourceful.

Topics: Browser, Enterprise Software, Software, Software Development

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  • What is SOA anyway?

    Do you mean this?
  • SOA material

    @joemartn: As mentioned in other comments, that article is pretty good, though it has some items on the first page that are a bit off (e.g. the first bullet is right about described interfaces, wrong about them always being XML and wrong about WSDL being *the* standard).

    Other material you might find interesting:

    The Gartner paper describing SOA, widely credited as the first published definition:

    A book defining the application of SOA at the business architecture level (most books focus on the technical level. Download is free but one must register.

    OASIS has done some work in defining an SOA reference model and a reference architecture:

    Another site with material that defines SOA a bit differently. Take look at the "Practitioners Guide":

    There is a discussion group on Yahoo with participants that are recognized as leading SOA thinkers:

    The challenge in reaching a unified definition of SOA is that, IMO, many folks forget about the "A". And they forget that an A will incorporate many principles, not just SO principles. SOA is a style, not an architecture in and of itself.

    Also challenging is that many assume "SOA" implies a particular architectural level. Most assume that it is an enterprise level concern. IMO, SO principles can be applied at any architectural level.

    Your question is a good one to remember for virtually any conversation about SOA: start off with "what is *your* definition of SOA?" as that will help avoid confusion and miscommunication.
  • RE: Needed: 'five times' as many SOA architects as we now have

    When demand increases for these types of roles, guess what
    supply will quickly follow! Remember 10 years ago when
    anyone who could turn on a PC and put on a business suit
    was a IT consultant and designing java-bases solutions...and
    we wonder why we had an IT crash in the early 21st century.
    I like the idea of certifications and practical training on SOA.
    If not 'regulated' or some type of 'certifications' put in place
    we can see everyone putting on a SOA-hat and an EDA-hat
    and a BPM-hat...
    • The problem there is

      certification always lags a few years behind demand. Oddly enough too few consumers/customers worry about certifications when such skills are in demand. As a result they'll hire anybody with a pulse who knows the acronyms.
  • I know some who will be looking for work soon ...

    My wife works for an insurance company that is on their second attempt at implementing SOA, with very little to show for it. She's expecting to see a lot of empty offices at the end of this quarter ...
    terry flores
  • RE: Needed: 'five times' as many SOA architects as we now have

    Enterprise Architects understand the value of SOA and business. Unfortunately, it appears that most positions in SOA are being filled by IT with a focus on technology. In my book, "Deadlines and Duct Tape" I describe the cost of taking the tightly coupled path. It appears that web services are becoming just another form of duct tape for most shops. Consequently, I believe the demand for SOA architects is just an IT reaction to current events without any strategic intent.