So far, SOA failures are few and far between, survey says

What is the cost of SOA failure? Survey says more than 100 staff hours, and several months of regrouping
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

We're hearing a lot of chatter about "SOA failure," but how prevalent are they, and how do companies respond?

CA recently released the results of a survey that explored SOA failure, and who takes charge. The survey, which covered 615 companies in the process of SOA-based efforts, actually found scant evidence of widespread SOA failures. For example, 92% say their SOA initiatives met or exceeded business unit objectives, while only eight percent say they did not. Likewise, 90% were satisfied with the performance of their SOA environments. The highest level of dissatisfaction was for "conversion of legacy applications" -- cited by 13%.

What did the organizations with SOA "failures" do when they recognized that things weren't working out as planned?  More than two out of three pulled the plug, but four out of ten also went back to the drawing board and started over with another SOA-based effort.

What were the costs of these SOA disappointments? There were some costs in terms of lost time and productivity, but for most, the pain was minimal. For most companies, it takes several months to get going again on a new effort. A majority of companies with failed SOA efforts, 52%, said it took at least three months or more to get back on track. In terms of lost staff time, two out of three, 66%, say they lost 100 hours or more as a result of the setback.  Only 12% said this loss was more than 1,000 hours.

What was most interesting about CA's results was an "SOA pain scale," asking respondents how badly the failure of their SOA project hurt:

SOA Pain Scale: How Much Did Your SOA Failure Hurt?

(1=hardly hurts to 10=sheer agony)

1-2         21%

3-5         48%

6-8         27%

9-10       4%

As shown here, a majority said the pain was at the lower half of the scale. Only four percent really suffered a lot of "agony" as a result of their SOA setback.

So go ahead, it will only hurt a little bit.

The survey also shows that SOA efforts are almost evenly divided between enterprise involvement and more insulated IT or business unit involvement. About 57% of respondents say their SOA efforts are enterprise focused, either "enterprise-wide" or "part of an enterprise-wide strategic initiative" (not sure what the difference is between the two categories, so we'll lump them together.)  A total of 53% are either IT-initiated (37%) or siloed within a business unit (16%).

Companies also appear evenly divided between IT and business control of the performance of SOA environments. Forty percent say business process owners are "proactively involved" in SOA service level agreements -- "business process owners regularly review reports on SLAs and other metrics (e.g., customer satisfaction, revenue growth)." Another 40% say it's all under IT control. About a third say business users will jump in when severe problems arise.

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