Analyst: Wall Street doesn't quite get SOA yet

Vendors are scrambling to build a product category where there is no tangible product, and no specific demand for one.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

To paraphrase Gordon Gekko, is SOA a "dog with fleas"? Shouldn't analysts be excited over the prospect that enterprises are finally getting the tools and knowledge they need to break down their internal silos and move forward with confidence into the new digital realm? Would Gekko, the corporate raider in the movie Wall Street, touch an SOA company with a 10-foot pole?

Trip Chowdhry, a managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research, recently joined in on one of Dana Gardner's recent SOA BriefingsDirect podcasts, and explained why he -- and the rest of Wall Street -- isn't quite sold on the promises vendors have been making as of late around SOA. 

Vendors are scrambling to build a product category where there is no tangible product, and no specific demand for one.

Trip's message is very simple and straightforward: Vendors, please start making some sense to the rest of the world when it comes to SOA. Trip said that the SOA concept holds some promise, but vendors aren't articulating the message too well. "SOA is definitely a trend, but it seems like the messaging, the product, and everything else need to be simplified, so that people can know how one initiative can correlate and coexist with other initiatives they have going," pointed out. 

Trip pointed to everyone's favorite poster child of complexity -- SAP. "If you think about companies like SAP who have very long implementation cycles, they have a lot of moving parts," he explained. "It's a complex product, and the problem that SAP has -- and to some extent, most of the SOA vendors have -- is that they’re trying to solve complexity with complexity."

In other words, the big players in the market are pushing their brands of Big SOA. Not nice, neat, vendor-independent pilot projects and manageable initiatives that can prove themselves and build from there. Nor are there nice, neat, shrink-wrapped (or downloadable) products.

Not only is SAP pushing Big SOA, but Oracle and IBM as well. Ironically, the only different message on this is coming from "Big, Bad" Microsoft, which is saying that the "big science" approach being advanced by these other vendors is all about SOA, for SOA, and not business value.

Interestingly, while the other vendors have consistently chased the big enterprise fruit, they are once again ignoring the mass market, and this is where Microsoft has historically launched its juggernaut steamroller campaigns to dominate markets. In addition, the open source ventures, such as JBoss, Mule, OpenBPEL and Apache, have also been building bases in the mass markets. 

In fact, one of the points Trip made during the podcast panel was that while the Big SOA promoters are rustling up some early adopter examples, they are completely missing the mass market SOA opportunity. "When it comes to mass adoption -- or the second phase of product adoption that needs to occur to show growth -- then you really have to ease the product, ease the message," he explained. "You have to tell what you do in one bullet point. So far, our research shows that NetWeaver and SAP, and some other vendors, have very complicated messages, which CIOs are now struggling to understand."

Neil Ward-Dutton pointed out that those CIOs are not crying out they "want SOA." Vendors are scrambling to build a product category where there is no tangible product, and no specific demand for one. Trip added that as a result, there is no clear winner in the SOA market who can say, "Here is SOA," adding that "you have a product called 'database,' but SOA is still a concept. And Wall Street is having a tough time putting avaluation or momentum behind SOA. Wall Street is thinking that any company that is in a disastrous situation evolves to be in 'SOA.'"

Editorial standards