Could uncertain times be a boon for SOA?

If budgets were to get tighter, this would be a chance for SOA to really prove itself

TechTarget's Rich Seeley has just published the opinions of several SOA market analysts (including yours truly) on what the potential impact of an economic downturn would be on SOA efforts.

If IT budgets got tighter, would anybody notice?

The general consensus appears to be that if things were to get a little tougher, this would be a chance for SOA to really prove itself.

However, the first thought that comes to mind is, if IT budgets were tightened, would anybody notice? IT has been under pressure to do a lot more with a lot less for years now. And SOA has been seen since its current inception as one of several strategies to make things happen within tight constraints.

Neil Ward-Dutton of Macehiter Ward-Dutton notes that no one can really cut back on SOA, since it's not something you buy -- "it's just a set of concepts." He urges actively working the SOA angle to keep business transformation on track: "Use SOA to minimize the future cost of change in one or two high-profile areas like this and you'll demonstrate how IT can minimize costs and still support ongoing innovation."ZapThink's Dave Linthicum says that SOA, properly implemented, delivers a very high return on investment -- something that will help businesses in uncertain times.

Miko Matsumura of Software AG webMethods echos this sentiment, noting that "SOA is needed more in hard times because you want more of your IT budget to go towards high leverage projects as opposed to reinventing, re-securing, reintegrating and rebuilding the wheel for each new project." He states a trusim that applies to technology even in the fattest or fastest of times: "So much IT budget goes down the drain on lack of systemic global optimization that IT is dying the death of a thousand cuts."

My ZDNet colleague Dana Gardner points out that benefits of SOA transcends economic fluctuations. Companies that simply cut SOA because of a tighter budget "are probably not yet serious about SOA. They will be more likely to remain in constant firefighting mode, trying to keep their databases up and email from choking."

My view is that we will see a mixed scenario, with the companies that "get" SOA continuing full throttle with it, while companies that can't grasp the concept scaling back. My view is that tough times would enable SOA to prove its mettle, offering a means to streamline processes and reduce redundancies within their development and integration operations. When times get rough, companies get most skittish about new hiring. A case can be made for SOA efforts that enable organizations to continue to run or even expand current operations without adding additional staff to build new services or maintain them.

And, let's face it, when it comes to budget crunches, the pinch was never lifted off IT since the post-dot-bomb and post-Y2K hangovers of 2001. Even if the economy were roaring with 25-percent growth this year, budgets would still be stingy and stingier. Hence, the interest in SOA, Web 2.0, and open source approaches to problems -- these are the best-known ways to get more enterprise bang for the buck.