SOA needs to succeed, one project at a time

Dave Linthicum opened up a Pandora's Box at last month's Open Group’s Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference when he opined in his keynote that SOA would be subsumed into Enterprise Architecture within five years' time.Dana Gardner, leading a panel later in the same day, wondered out loud if we might end up actually dropping the words "service oriented" in favor of the more general term of "architecture.

Dave Linthicum opened up a Pandora's Box at last month's Open Group’s Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference when he opined in his keynote that SOA would be subsumed into Enterprise Architecture within five years' time.

Dana Gardner, leading a panel later in the same day, wondered out loud if we might end up actually dropping the words "service oriented" in favor of the more general term of "architecture."

Beth Gold-Goldstein (my colleague over at the ebizQ community), agreed that SOA should (and will ultimately) be a part of EA, but wondered if Dave's prediction was a little too ambitious. "All the polls that we’ve done at ebizQ have shown that the market is really in the early stages of [SOA] adoption." And there's a lot more at stake than simply changing SOA architects' job titles, she added. "There is more to [SOA] than just architecture. It fundamentally changes the way we create applications. That means developers need to change the way they are architecting applications, and that’s very different. It's going to take quite a while until we build up the different levels of services."

But if SOA does stick around as its own discipline, how will we know when and if it's working? Panelists agreed that SOA success is in the eye of the beholder. "It all comes back to what the business is trying to do, and to try to understand how IT can contribute to that solution," said InfoWorld's Eric Knorr. "If I don’t have any idea on how IT contributes, I am never going to be able to say I was successful or not."

Beth noted that "every SOA project needs to contribute to the benefit of the business. It's not down the road five years. Everything you do needs to show benefit, and incrementally... All along the way, to be successful at all, you have to deliver business value for every single project. I don’t think you can wait at all."