In a new article in Intelligent Enterprise, business process management guru Bruce Silver weighs in on the whole reuse controversy -- apparently agreeing with David Chappell and some other industry watchers that the 'reuse' concept around SOA may not be taking off as intended. "I've heard from practitioners on both the SOA and BPM sides that reuse is, in the end, a phantom, not really there after all," he writes.
Silver notes that reuse is still an alien concept within the BPM space, and provides a damning quote from a leading BPM practitioner at a large insurance company:
"'We've built a repository of hundreds of tasks, activities, subprocesses and the like, [but] the only practical reuse on the business side is moving from 'as-is' to 'to-be.' ... I expected there to be great value in reuse. It turns out to be pretty much zip value and minimal opportunity, even when you force your methods to genericize things,' meaning, provide that proper level of abstraction. He went on to relate the tale of a Fortune 50 company that, after investing in building a component library and promoting it heavily for several years, netted fewer than 50 total components, of which only three or four were ever reused."
Silver goes on to theorize that 'reuse' is too much of an IT-centric term that "means reuse of IT assets rather than reuse of business process logic." Business process owners need to participate in the formulation of services intended for reuse. "The definition of business services needs more of a demand-side component to give process owners a seat at the table. And that probably means new tools and methodologies, shared by business and IT, focused not just on the level of abstraction, but actual demand for reuse."
Interestingly, David Chappell's point is that reuse failed as a benefit of object-oriented programming, and he is seeing a similiar pattern within SOA. Perhaps, as Bruce Silver suggests here, SOA is still too technology focused, and business input remains a missing ingredient.