Despite what some vendors have said, service oriented architecture will not solve world hunger.
And there are plenty of voices that say that SOA actually accomplishes nothing at all, because it was cooked up by vendor marketing departments. As Loraine Lawson reported reported last week, small to medium business managers don't see the point in it.
Plus, many companies that have bought into SOA are still in various stages of SOA-enabling pieces of their systems and operations. There are few, if any, pure SOA-enabled organizations out there. It's still a work in progress.
Randy Heffner of Forrester reminds us once again, however, that beyond vendor spiels, SOA has a very high-level purpose, to free up businesses from the underlying technology that has been choking them for the last two decades. Ultimately, he says, SOA is more than SOA -- that it "provides a broad foundation for a much larger shift in business technology architecture that goes far beyond SOA itself." In fact, Randy adds, Forrester surveys have found that 38 percent of Global 2000 SOA users say they are using it for strategic business transformation -- not for simple little integration projects or code reuse.
This may sound grandiose, but Randy lists at least seven down-to-earth examples of where SOA can take an organization:
- SOA aligns software with the business.
- SOA creates a portfolio of business capabilities.
- SOA brings business capabilities where they are needed.
- SOA facilitates business process management for business responsiveness.
- SOA supports event processing for early warning.
- SOA makes predictive analytics possible for action that anticipates future problems.
- SOA contains rules and policies for business flexibility.
I'd like to add my own thoughts to Randy's list, and that is that SOA brings business partners together into a common collaborative environment. Companies and departments can make services such as inventory checks and purchasing available to partners -- you can even call this private cloud computing.