A couple of surveys I have run across seem to say the same thing -- everyone agrees that SOA can be a good thing, but few feel they can muster up the resources and political will to push the concept within their organizations.
There's confusion about exactly what SOA is and means, and beyond the confusion, a feeling that it requires a vast sea change that is beyond the capabilities, and perhaps energies, of its proponents.
First, the confusion. A survey of both technical and businesspeople finds little or no understanding yet of what service-oriented architecture is. Clive Longbottom, head of research for Quocirca, reports that in a survey of 1,500 respondents his firm conducted earlier this year for Oracle, only a minority of respondents truly understood what SOA was all about. (Thanks to SOA Digest for surfacing this report.)
- From a mix of technical and business respondents, 20% said they have a good understanding of SOA; 25% said they have minimal knowledge, and 30% had no clue what SOA was.
- For business respondents alone, the level of understanding hits rock bottom: 10% knew what SOA is; 55% were clueless.
The survey also showed that fewer than 10% of the enterprises in the survey have a functioning SOA -- this sounds like a realistic figure.
Longbottom also reports that many of the companies his firm speaks to say that they "cannot afford the business impact of moving from an existing architecture to an SOA." That's because they have the perception that it requires a major overhaul of their IT infrastructure and processes, versus a gradual introduction of change.
A recent survey of Australian companies also finds that about 70% of IT executives prefer to customize existing applications, versus moving to on an SOA or even Web services project.
Why? Many cite insufficient resources to get SOA projects rolling.
The survey of 80 senior IT executives, conducted by InterSystems at a Gartner event, found "there is no single method of connecting to or extending IT applications that most respondents were confident they could quickly and cost effectively use." The report added that "when it comes to Web services, service-oriented architectures, workflow functions and business process automation, executing within a six-month period and doing so cost-effectively, is beyond the capability of most organizations."
When I see issues and roadblocks like this discussed, I always have to ask: what's the alternative? What else is there out there that will help us achieve enterprise-wide integration? There is nothing else. We have the standards, we have the tools, and we have enough vendor cooperation to make things interoperate. SOA and Web services are the only way to go. The question is: Do we have the will? Or, should I say, do organizations have the will to go forward? Some do; many don't.
We talk a lot in this blog about SOA being an enterprise-wide effort that should be owned by the enterprise, rather than an individual department. There's plenty of talk about governance in the development and deployment sense, but there needs to be more discussion about corporate governance -- having SOA designed by and for the business units that will hopefully also see the benefits. IT is the enabler; but should not shoulder the whole thing alone.