Motley Fool: software bazaar 'boisterous' with SOA

SOA investments may bear fruit in three to four years.

A new advisory posted at Motley Fool calls SOA an "extension of the software as a service concept," except that it is offered internally and includes business processes. (Thanks to SOA Digest for surfacing this report.)

John Finneran, a contributor to the Fool, says there's money to be made:

"Given IT often amounts to half of all new investment for large firms, SOA's promise of increased returns from IT investments creates a huge opportunity. Annual growth rates of 70% are forecast by industry researcher WinterGreen, with the U.S. SOA market soaring from $450 million in 2005 to $18.4 billion by 2012."

Billions and billions. But what exactly is an "SOA market?" Unlike other types of products, SOA won't be readily identifiable through shrinkwrapped packages. Rather, SOA capabilities will be embedded within enterprise packages, operating systems, and integration tools. Kind of behind the scenes if you will.

SOA arrives to a market anxious and ready for change. Finneran says SOA has a lot of appeal among companies beleaguered by siloed processes and IT systems -- and there are a couple out there.

But, as with all industry panaceas, there are perils behind the promises. Finneran cautions that it will take at least three to four years before SOA really begins to bear fruit -- for enterprise users as well as technology investors. "New software, or architectures, cannot banish old problems. Technology integration is getting easier, but it's still difficult. And consolidating application infrastructure is more complex and costly than consolidating servers, storage, or infrastructural software. "

Finneran also observes, spot on I believe, that the primary driver of SOA value, reuse (or sharing), is still too IT-focused. "So far, [reuse] seems to be mainly at the level of IT assets -- saving money on software maintenance, for example -- rather than the more valuable, and difficult, level of business processes."