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SOA innovation amid spending crunch

Companies are holding the line on IT spending -- even as they seek smarter ways to invest in IT innovation. Such trends are actually good news for SOA champions.

Companies are holding the line on IT spending -- even as they seek smarter ways to invest in IT innovation, according to Information Week's annual survey of top IT users. "Average IT spending among the InformationWeek 500, at $293 million, is at its lowest level in five years," it states. As a percentage of revenue, the average IT budget was 3% for the top 100 and 2.8% for the next 400 companies on our list...This reflects strides some companies have made to cut costs through efficiency so they can spend money on new projects even though they're working with smaller budgets."

Such trends are actually good news for SOA champions. Some of the greatest potential in SOA lies in its ability to leverage existing IT assets or even replace massively expensive ones with less costly alternatives.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., which is mentioned in the issue, is now actively implementing its service-oriented architecture. Dubbed "Valhalla," the initiative involves transferring 750 hotels from a mainframe environment to services-based infrastructure by February. "Hopefully, this time next year, our mainframe will be very, very idle," says chief technology officer Tom Conophy.

The company now is developing roughly 150 Web services in order to manage tasks such as room-availability searches, booking processes, and loyalty registration.

The objective to enable Starwood to deliver services to "a new generation of networked televisions," which will be in hotel rooms next year. However, the Starwood continues to work to ensure that the Web services can handle the volume and won't be exposed to the public until they can. As Conophy puts it, "The last thing we want is somebody in Zimbabwe to sell out one of our Sheratons just because he can."