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Can SOA undo years of overspending?

'There's an aversion to large up-front investments such as those in the previous days of IT, when someone would buy a lot of software to start or enable a project. We don’t need more features and functions, we just need everything to work together better.'
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Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

I helped prepare collateral material for the recent InfoWorld SOA Executive Forum, which included a series of podcast interviews I conducted with major SOA players.

All seven podcasts are available for listening or download at the SOA in Action site, sponsored by ebizQ. I'll provide some nuggets of the podcasts as I go along.

In a chat with Eric Newcomer, CTO of IONA, Eric said its time to step back and examine what has come out of the unfettered spending spree on IT systems that enterprises made over the years.

It isn't a pretty picture, he remarks. Just about everything that can be automated has been automated, but often without rhyme, reason, or a business case. As Eric puts it:

After three decades of spending on IT "without really knowing how that spend contributed to the bottom line or overall business strategy, companies now want a scientific approach to calculating the cost of reuse and allowing multiple clients to access the same service or backends via service abstraction."

Enterprises aren't about to keep pouring money and resources into huge IT projects -- and simply can no longer afford to. It's time to figure out a way to manage the resources we have, and this is where SOA has a huge role to play, Eric says. "Companies expect their IT departments to adopt technologies within the current budget envelope."

That's why Eric also urges companies to "implement SOA incrementally, in a step-by-step economically controlled fashion, so that their investments in software to enable their services are keeping pace with their ability to spend."

The best way to start SOA, Eric says, is a "pay-as-you-go model. Start with a couple of services to really prove the concept, and see that they’re reusable." One way to track progress, he suggests, is conduct a survey of services "and rank them in priority order to see which of them might be the best candidates of application functionality."

Eric senses "an aversion to large up-front investments such as those in the previous days of IT, when someone would buy a lot of software to start or enable a project. Today, we don’t need more features and functions, we just need everything to work together better." 

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