Manes: no bones about it, 'SOA' (as we knew it) is still dead

"I never intended to say that organizations shouldn't do SOA (they MUST!), but SOA teams are hard pressed to get funding for their efforts unless they focus on delivering services that generate measurable business value.

"I never intended to say that organizations shouldn't do SOA (they MUST!), but SOA teams are hard pressed to get funding for their efforts unless they focus on delivering services that generate measurable business value."

- Anne Thomas Manes

Anne Thomas Manes responded to my recent post on the continuing debate over her pronouncement that "SOA is Dead; Long Live Services," and provides an update:

"Just in case anyone is still confused by what I said/meant... 'SOA' as a term has lost its luster, but 'SOA' as a practice is essential for all organizations going forward. Many organizations have invested millions into SOA, and they have little benefit to show for it. Some organizations are worse off than when they started. Given the tight economy, business people aren't particularly interested in pouring more money into what looks like a sinking ship. If you want to get funding this year for your SOA initiative, you should probably avoid using the word 'SOA' and instead focus your efforts on building 'services' that deliver measurable value to the business."

(Yes, that is Bones McCoy Anne put on the site, declaring "It's dead, Jim!" I could also imagine Scotty trying to get the SOA initiative moving into warp drive, crying, "I don't know how much longer she's going to hold up, captain!)

Success in business means positive return on investment, Anne says -- and that has not been the case for SOA that she's seen. "If you've invested $5 million over five years, your initiative is not successful unless you've generated more than $5 million in positive business outcomes."

Many of Burton Group's clients cutting back on SOA initiatives over the past year, Anne also observes.

While a recent Forrester survey of 2,227 IT executives produced semi-optimistic results, finding a 24% success rate with SOA initiatives and only 1% cutting back, Anne wonders about that 75% in the middle. "I'd like to see how the middle groups (75%) in this survey correlate with the 40% of users that aren't measuring ROI [as per the recent Gartner survey on the subject]. We've found that many organizations can't definitively say how well their SOA initiatives are going because they lack hard metrics and baselines."

So, maybe only 25% have a solid idea of their SOA's business metrics, and thus can declare the effort a success or failure? That definitely speaks to a range of issues.

Lastly, we also need to determine if 60% performing measurement (per Gartner) indeed is a poor result for an approach that has been around in most companies for less than five years. (Thanks, Rob Eamon, for raising this issue.) Is this an improvement over previous years? Is it comparable to other initiatives in similar stages of maturity? Sure, 40% not measuring is dismal, but 60% actually may be a spectular number -- but we don't have the comparative data to put it in perspective.