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SOA roadblocks

We all may be feeling a little impatient as we wait for SOA to truly take off, but it may be that we all suffer from some version of ADD, too. Rather than cooly and diligently stay the course, we get uptight in the absence of an overnight success.
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Written by Britton Manasco on

We all may be feeling a little impatient as we wait for SOA to truly take off, but it may be that we all suffer from some version of ADD, too. Rather than cooly and diligently stay the course, we get uptight in the absence of an overnight success. 

As Jason Bloomberg of ZapThink points out, "Many organizations are finding it more difficult than they had expected to put SOA into practice. At this point in the evolution of the market, organizations seem to understand what SOA is and why they should do it, but there's still broad confusion about how to implement SOA in a way that guarantees business benefit and keeps the ball rolling. Some firms find that some combination of organizational, technological, or architectural issues bring their SOA initiatives to a standstill. Other companies lack sufficient buy-in from business executives to take SOA past the pilot stage."

Bloomberg offers a set of SOA "roadblocks" that he think may be slowing down traffic. Among them:

True interoperability is still largely out of reach. Today's vision for SOA depends upon loosely coupled interactions among heterogeneous systems, and that vision depends upon standards-based interoperability. Cross-product, cross-platform interoperability is the raison d'etre of Web Services, after all... To get past this roadblock, companies must push their vendor suppliers to be compliant with at least the most basic of Service standards.

Companies lack architects with proper skills. To be a Service-oriented architect, an individual needs a solid grasp of enterprise architecture, as well as a strong familiarity with technical architecture, information architecture, business process architecture, and data architecture. People with all of these skills are simply as rare as four-leaf clovers.

Standards are incomplete, too limited, or poorly conceived. Several standards bodies and their vendor-laden membership have put together elaborate roadmaps of proposed standards, covering integration, management, security, and more. To be sure, they're making good progress on assembling the standards on these roadmaps, but there's still a long way to go before we have a coherent, complete set of interoperability standards for SOA.

Corporate politics. For many organizations, the relationship between lines of business and IT is strained at best, and antagonistic at worst. All too often, business management sees IT as a high-risk money sink that places limitations on the ability of the company to execute on its strategic goals. In all fairness, many IT people are willing to admit that the history of IT in their organizations is littered with cost overruns, failed projects, and plenty of activities that don't help the bottom line... A 22-month SOA project might be 18 months too long. Be short, iterative, and high-value and you won’t have business management blocking your further progress.

Skepticism, selfishness, and stubbornness. While it clearly makes sense to be realistic about the limitations and problems with SOA, there will always be people in any organization whose skepticism goes beyond reason to emotional issues of platform choice, vendor bias, or personal preference. Furthermore, too many people resist new approaches, not because they truly see anything wrong with the new approach, but simply because they're comfortable with the skills they have, and they don't want to have to learn anything new...  Companies that wish to have a prayer of making consistent progress with their SOA projects should identify not only the champions who will further the cause of Service-orientation, but also those roadblockers that only wish to stop the progress of something they see as threatening.

ZapThink encourages companies to take "an iterative approach" to overcome these problems. "While the roadblocks listed above are problematic, you can overcome each and every one of them. The secret is to take things one step at a time... None of the roadblocks above are preventing you from taking the first steps toward putting together a high-level SOA plan, or assembling a few loosely coupled Services. Roadblocks may slow you down, but there's no question that for the vast majority of organizations considering SOA today, the fundamental business benefits of SOA outweigh the disadvantages."

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