Gartner recently came up with a bunch of initiatives they say can help demonstrate IT's value to the business in a time of tight budgets and retrenchment. However, as surfaced by ZDNet blogging colleague Dion Hinchcliffe, notably absent from this list of action items was SOA.
Dion observes that this slip is huge, since "Gartner has been a notable proponent of SOA as the overarching solution for business value for a while now, and has stated as recently as last year that 80% of all development projects will use SOA as the basis for development by 2008."
Instead, Gartner posts an action item recommending that IT leaders "operate all revenue-generating channels in a Web 2.0 architecture by 2008."
The question is whether 1) the standards and practices that make up SOA have become so ubiquitous that it can be assumed that they are embedded into every one of the action items, or if 2) some leading thinkers, such as Gartner, are turning away from SOA.
It's likely that a little of both is happening. SOA methodologies -- at least expressed as industry-standard hooks and interfaces -- are part and parcel of all of Gartner's recommendations, which include: complete automation of IT operations; develop and evolve a "strategic information security architecture;" create a business intelligence competency center; move toward "multisourcing" of IT functions; move to Web 2.0; and retire 10 percent of applications.
In fact, while Gartner doesn't cite SOA by name, one key action item is to move application management, as much as possible, to an enterprise perspective. "Mega-projects must give way to an emphasis on continuous improvement through resource changes, methodology changes and changes in technical architecture that enable higher composition, reuse and integration." (Sounds like SOA to me.)
Perhaps Gartner recognizes that you can't sell just plain old "SOA" as a value driver to management. You have to tell management what you're going to do for the business, and the applications that will make that happen. SOA provides the agility to get there; but is not the goal in itself.
In most cases, SOA is not a galactic enterprise-wide megaproject. It can appear in many places. You can have an SOA, for example, underneath the business intelligence competency center that Gartner suggests.