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InformationWeek survey: lots of glum about enterprise apps, SOA

IT professionals say enterprise applications are a bear to maintain. And SOA, BPM and cloud don't seem to be offering much relief.

A new survey of 485 IT managers and professionals finds that the recent economic downturn has shifted priorities regarding SOA and a number of other initiatives. However, many are disenchanted with their enterprise applications, and few are confident that SOA, cloud, or BPM can handle everything that's needed for the choppy waters ahead.

SOA and other next-gen apps still offer no relief from cost and complexity

The survey, conducted by InformationWeek, finds that IT managers and professionals feel that ERP, CRM, and supply-chain management systems are still "costly and difficult to implement."

Should we be surprised?  Not really -- there's been plenty of disenchantment for years about the huge, monolithic applications and systems that seem to get only more complex. That's the reason service oriented architecture came about in the first place -- as an attempt to surface the important pieces of these systems as easier-to-manage services.

But, the survey also finds, "they also doubt that next-generation apps will be any easier to deal with." Fifty-eight percent are concerned about either implementation issues or training challenges.

Most enterprises have yet to fully embrace service-oriented architecture, software as a service, or business process management, according to IW's Doug Henschen, author of the report. SOA doesn't seem to be making it any easier to move to new functionality within enterprise settings. The challenge taking up the greatest mindshare is changing, upgrading, or optimizing existing enterprise applications, cited by 54% of respondents.

There is growing interest in cloud computing -- the survey finds that 16% "already use cloud computing infrastructure," and 45% are considering cloud.

Again, the glum mood among enterprise IT professionals is not surprising, as they are charged with maintaining and improving massively complex systems with very tight budgets and resources. Plus, businesses, facing a hyper-competitive global market,  are only getting more demanding for IT and analytic capabilities.

Solutions such as SOA, cloud or BPM don't offer overnight fixes -- they are all evolutionary moves as IT seeks to keep up with the business and provide more flexibility.