Analyst: 'SOA is working'

To some, a service is a service is a service. But not every service should be expected to deliver business value

There's been plenty of debate about how well SOA has been working for organizations.

Not every service should be expected to deliver business value

Count Forrester's Randy Heffner is the pro-SOA camp. In an recent interview with ebizQ's Peter Schooff, Heffner says most large organizations and at least half of small to medium businesses have adopted SOA, and most are satisfied with their progress so far. "For three years running, about 70% of current users have said they'll do more SOA and only one percent or two percent will cut back. You don't get a large consensus doing more of something unless it’s working," he said.

Of course, not every service created under the umbrella of SOA delivers business value. In fact, some services are simply not meant to deliver value, Heffner said. Some services simply have more local or tactical purposes. "Many in the industry have what I like to call a 'flat model of services.' To them, a service is a service, is a service. Just put them all in the registry for people to search on. But it’s much better to realize that in terms a strategic business value, some services are better and more valuable than others."

Heffner says there are actually three types of services:

Infrastructure services are technical utilities functions;

Applications services deal with connecting siloed applications; and

Business services, which embody organizations, major business transactions, and capabilities.

It's the business services that will deliver the value, while the others enhance IT efficicency. "They’re things that business people care about as they design your business processes like submit orders, or convert accounts, or get customer history, or whatever it might be," Heffner said. "A step in a business process, basically."

Heffner also talked about the rise of REST-based services, or in broader terms, Web-Oriented Architecture (WOA). However, WOA is way too immature for enterprises at this point, he pointed out. "There are clearly scenarios where the lighter weight REST or WOA approaches are beneficial but the biggest limitation with them is that there’s no industry standard interoperability profiles for high quality of service with REST and WOA."