IDC research shows enterprise SOA adoption deepens based on certain critical practices

According to the same poll ... What are most interesting are the top challenges in implementing SOA. All of our past studies reinforced that skills, availability of skills, and training in SOA continue to be a number one challenge. What’s really noticeable now is that setting up an SOA governance structure has reached the second most-indicated challenge.
Written by Dana Gardner, Contributor

Read complete transcript of the discussion. Access the webinar. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Download the IDC report "A Study in Critical Success Factors for SOA."

Fresh research from IDC on service oriented architecture (SOA) adoption patterns shows what users of SOA identify as essential success factors. Reaping rewards from SOA may mean even more as tech spending growth is expected to slow. The perceptions are critical as more companies cross from experimentation to more holistic SOA use and its required governance management and lifecycle functions.

A recent webinar captures the IDC findings and shows how Hewlett-Packard (HP) is working to help companies adopt SOA successfully. That webinar is now captured as a podcast, transcript and blog.

Join me as I moderate a SOA market adoption trends presentation by Sandy Rogers, program director for SOA, Web services, and integration research at IDC. Sandy is followed by a presentation on SOA lifecycle approaches by Kelly Emo, SOA product marketing manager for HP Software.

Here are some excerpts:

Sandy Rogers: Organizations are looking for much more consistency across enterprise activities and views, and are really finding a lot of competitive differentiation in being able to manage their processes more effectively. That requires the ability to stand across different types of systems and to respond -- whether in a reactive mode or a proactive mode -- to opportunities.

What we’re finding is that, as we go to this generation, SOA, in and of itself, is spawning the ability to address new types of models, such as event-based processing, model-based processing, cloud computing, and appliances. We’re really, as a foundation, looking to make a strategic move.

The issue is not necessarily deciding if they should go toward SOA. What we're finding is that for most organizations this is the way that they are going to move, and the question is just navigating how to best do that for the best value and for better success.

According to the same poll ... What are most interesting are the top challenges in implementing SOA. All of our past studies reinforced that skills, availability of skills, and training in SOA continue to be a number one challenge. What’s really noticeable now is that setting up an SOA governance structure has reached the second most-indicated challenge.

We found in other studies that a lot of organizations did not have strong governance. SOA almost forces these companies to do what they should have been doing all along around incorporating the right procedures around governance, and making that a non-intrusive approach.

... What this is telling us is that we have reached another stage of maturity, and that in order to move forward organization will need to think about SOA as an overall program, and how it impacts both technology and people dimensions within the organization. ... We are indeed moving from project- and application-level SOA to more of a system and enterprise scale.

We [also] wanted to look at how SOA's success is actually defined, ... and what factors and practices in these organizations that are successful have the most impact. ... While technologies are key enablers, most of the study participants focused on organizational and program dynamics as being key contributors to success. Through technology, they are able to influence the impact of the activities that they are introducing into the overall SOA program.

The pervasiveness of SOA adoption in the enterprise was a key determinant of how ... they were being successful. ... If you’re able to handle trust, you’re able to influence organizational change management effectiveness. If you’re able to address business alignment, then you’ll have much more success in understanding the impact on architecture and vice versa.

Domains of SOA success

When we gathered all of this information ... we created a framework of varying components, and elements that impacted success. Then, we aggregated these into seven key domains. ... The seven domains are: Business Alignment, Organizational Change Management, Communication, Trust, Scale and Sustainability, Architecture and Governance. [See full transcript or listen to the podcast for more detail on each domain.]

We found that enforcing policies, not putting off governance until later on, was very important, [as well as] putting more efforts into business modeling, which many of these organizations are doing now. They said that they wished they had done a little bit more when thinking about the services that were created, focusing on preparing the architecture for much more process and innovation.

Kelly Emo: You heard from IDC the seven critical SOA success factors that came from this in-depth analysis of customers. The point that I want to reiterate here that was so powerful in this discussion is the idea that the seven domains are linked. By putting energy and effort in any one of them, you are setting yourself up for more success across the board.

What we are going to do now is drill down into that domain of governance. ... We’ll talk a little bit about the value of using an automated SOA governance platform, to help automate those manual activities and get you there faster.

... We see many of our customers now crossing the enterprise scalability divide with their SOA, looking to incorporate SOA into their mainstream IT organizations, and they’re seeing the benefits of that initial investment in governance help them make that leap.

SOA governance is all about helping IT get to the expected business benefits of their SOA. You can think of SOA governance, in essence, as IT's navigation system to get to the end goal of SOA. What it's going to help IT do, as they look to scale SOA out, is to more broadly foster trust across those distributed domains. It's going to help become a catalyst for communication and collaboration, and it's going to help jump-start that non-expert staff.

The thing that's key about governance is that it helps integrate those silos of IT. It helps integrate the folks who are responsible for designing services with those who actually have to develop the back end implementations and with those who are doing the testing of performance and functionality. Alternately, it integrates them with the organizations that are responsible for both deploying the services and the policies and integration logic that will support accessing those services.

Keeping a perspective on lifecycle governance, your organization can be primed and ready to handle SOA, as it scales, as more and more services go into production, and more and more services are deemed to be ready for consumption and reuse into new composite applications. ... The key is to keep a service lifecycle governance perspective in mind, as you go about your governance program, and automation is key. ... Automating policy compliance can bring a huge pay off.

What we are finding more and more now is that organizations are actually investing in a role known as service manager, someone who oversees the implication of not only delivering a service over time, but those that are consuming it. I see this as a best practice that can be supported by SOA governance, and which helps empower them by giving them a foundation to set up policies and have visibility in terms of how this service is meeting its objective and who is consuming the service.

You can actually get a dialog going between your enterprise architecture and planning teams, your development teams, and your testing teams, in terms of the expectations, and requirements right upfront, as the concept of the service is being ferreted out.

So why invest in SOA governance now ... [when] we’re under a lot of economic pressure, budgets are tight, there's fewer resources to do the same work? This sounds counter-intuitive, absolutely, but this is the right time to make that investment in SOA governance, because the benefits are going to pay off significantly.

Download the IDC report "A Study in Critical Success Factors for SOA."

Read complete transcript of the discussion. Access the Webinar. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

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