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SOA adoption trends -- what the data tells us

In response to a recent post that talked about corporate success rates with SOA, a reader issued a challenge to show the numbers behind SOA adoption. So, here is a summary of significant surveys -- a recap from previous posts -- on SOA adoption that have been conducted over the past 12 months.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

In response to a recent post that talked about corporate success rates with SOA, a reader issued a challenge to show the numbers behind SOA adoption. So, here is a summary of significant surveys -- a recap from previous posts -- on SOA adoption that have been conducted over the past 12 months. You will see that a mixed picture emerges from the data, such as one firm predicting a $9 billion market and another predicting a $52 billion market.

SOA market will grow to $9 billion: Research and Markets issued an assessment of the SOA market, and estimates the worldwide SOA market will grow from an estimated $2 billion in 2007 to more than $9 billion by 2014.

SOA market will grow to $52 billion: AMR Research pegged a much, much larger number to SOA, predicting that the overall SOA market will double over the next four years, from the current spending level 0f $28 billion to $52 billion. Individually, the average SOA adopter spent nearly $1.4 million on such efforts in 2007, with close to half spending over $500,000 on SOA software and services, AMR estimates. AMR’s numbers are far more expansive than the $2 billion estimate issued by Research and Markets (see above). At least 77 percent of companies will have SOA initiatives underway by 2012, AMR adds.

So far, SOA failures are few and far between: CA recently released the results of a survey that 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.

Worries over SOA skills availability: Micro Focus released a survey of 450 North American and European executives (mainly C-level executives) that found they are worried that they won’t have enough skilled individuals to maintain and modernize all those legacy systems they have. Instead, there’s been a lot of emphasis on recruiting for the sexy new stuff, such as Internet and Web 2.0 skills. The survey found that nearly two thirds (60%) of CFOs in Europe and US say having the skills to modernize core IT assets are the most valuable in a recession. However, most of the recruiting budgets are going to manage Internet-based technologies. Over half of all those polled (56%) confirmed newer, web-based technologies are the skills being recruited for the most today. Fewer than one in seven (13%) of the CFOs surveyed are convinced that they have the skills available to maintain their core IT assets.

Companies struggle with SOA ROI: An Evans Data survey of almost 400 developers and managers finds that almost one in five cited ROI as the most challenging aspect, more than identifying available Web services, testing and validation, or absorbing the expense. Savings from services reuse is the most common economic benefit in SOA projects globally, the survey also found. The issue is that ROI is something that needs to be measured from business results from areas across the enterprise. As discussed frequently at this blogsite, initial results from SOA-based efforts are delivering IT cost efficiencies, but the impact on business agility or improved business processes is tough to measure. The survey also found that companies desperately need enterprise or SOA architects with both business and technical skills. Within the next 12 months, two out of five respondents will be engaged full-time in SOA and Web services projects.  In addition, close to seven out of ten respondents report they need professionals skilled in the merging of business and technology, and would consider creating a special role within their organizations for an architect who can very precisely translate business processes into IT services.

Are business leaders out to lunch on SOA? Is SOA rudderless? CIOs seem to be missing in action when it comes to getting involved in SOA. Only 18% of companies participating in a new survey, sponsored by Software AG, report their CIO’s office plays a role in their SOA steering committee. This “may suggest that SOA isn’t viewed as strategically within IT as many have been led to believe,” the report notes.

Are business leaders out to lunch on SOA? (2) Loraine Lawson  cites a survey of 450 decision-makers that found only 18% implementing SOA, saying this is down from 2006 levels. Loraine speculates that the survey was conducted in the UK or EU, and therefore reflects different thinking about SOA than found in North America. Still, it’s worth re-evaluating the way SOA and integration are presented to the business, Loraine says.

Less hope for SOAP: A survey of 270 business professionals, released by InformationWeek, finds that one out of four have moved into service oriented architecture, and many are opting more lightweight approaches such as REST over SOAP. The survey found that 23% of respondents say that their organizations have deployed a SOA, and seven percent report that the resulting systems are available for external use. Twenty-nine percent are experimenting or in development, while 31% have no plans. Another finding is that respondents are fairly bullish on their SOA efforts. Forty-one percent said they have achieved the results expected, while 13% say their SOA efforts have surpassed expectations. Twelve percent said they have been disappointed by SOA. (The remaining 34% say they have not gotten far enough with SOA to make a determination.)

Only one out of five SOA efforts bearing fruit, the rest are JBOWS: At a Burton Group confab earlier in 2008, Anne Thomas Manes said that the consultancy’s in-depth study of 20 companies found a “50% complete failure rate,” while another “30% were considered neither successful nor wholly failed.... Many of them had deployed multiple successful projects, but most of those projects were focused on just one integration problem. “It was just a bunch of Web services. … The service is only built for one application and it’s never going to be used again.” What about that 20% (presumably four companies) that saw success with SOA? The Burton Group found that success came to SOA proponents who pay attention to the cultural shift that needs to take place within the business, cemented by good governance. The successful businesses had what Anne called “incredibly inspiring” stories to tell.

Service-oriented anarchy in the UK: A study of SAP users across the UK found that that a majority of respondents didn’t quite grasp what service oriented architecture is all about. Fifty-five percent of organizations questioned either didn’t understand SOA or hadn’t got a strategy in place to implement it. Only 13% of UK organizations questioned said that they were actively using or preparing to use SOA, while the remaining 32% were simply investigating it for their business.

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