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SOA: the smaller the company, the greater the edge?

Smaller organizations -- especially start-ups -- have natural advantages in building service-oriented approaches.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

In previous posts here, we talked about the relative disinterest smaller companies have in service oriented architecture -- often seen as a luxury or necessity for larger orgs with big budgets and complicated silos and piles of spaghetti all over the place. But simply unneeded in small firms.

However, in a new post, the ever-sharp Mike Kavis says smaller organizations -- especially start-ups -- have natural advantages that position them well for building service-oriented approaches to their IT.  There's that fresh, greenfield aspect of course, but Mike says there are other factors at play as well. Experienced in SOA-based projects in both medium-size companies and startups, he weighs the differences. (Some of the issues in medium-size organizations may be amplified in large organizations):

  • Legacy: Medium-size companies need to focus on integration of siloed systems. Startups can start fresh, with a blank sheet of paper, and business technology can be service-oriented right out of the gate.
  • Organizational change and politics: Medium-size companies encounter resistance and conflict between groups with entrenched processes and solutions. Startup teams can sign on to an agreed-upon IT roadmap from day one, and can understand how SOA could deliver efficiency, agility and connectivity to partners.
  • Governance: With their various application silos and groups, medium-size companies have different governance models "ranging from mature to chaotic." Startups can establish ownership of various architecture layers from the beginning, avoiding the need for large governance boards and charters.
  • Agility: Medium-size companies need to spend more time getting management, documentation, and communication lined up, so everyone is on the same page. Startups can get things done with small, collaborative teams.
  • Capital: Medium-size companies have a leg up on this one, since they may have more access to capital. They can better afford to bring in consultants and equipment to get things moving in the right direction. Startups need to build up gradually.

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