SOA's next act: EA? EAI? Cloud? BPM? All of the above?

Many are now extending their SOA experiences in different directions.

What's the next step for service oriented architecture?  Many see it melding with other disciplines, as it doesn't make for a business case on a standalone basis -- a business is going to demand streamlined customer care, or a more responsive ERP system, but never just "SOA."

Plus, vendors have gotten antsy to move on to The Next Big Thing, and many have toned down talk of being exclusively SOA suppliers.

So what's the next evolution? People involved in SOA across the industry have been responding in different ways, seeing movement in different directions:

  • EA: A couple of years back, my pal Dave Linthicum predicted that SOA would become part of Enterprise Architecture, and he stands by that assertionThis makes perfect sense, since we are talking about "architecture."
  • Cloud: Formerly called the SOA Symposium, the latest international symposium held this week in Berlin had, for the second year in a row, two co-located conferences on both SOA and cloud computing. This makes perfect sense, since SOA-enabled services are, in many respects, private cloud services. And an effective cloud structure needs sound service orientation underneath. (By the way, I would like to apologize to attendees who showed up for my to-be-remotely-delivered session on "The Economics of Cloud Computing." It was to be delivered via Skype, but after 15 minutes of struggling with a the connection, we had to call it off.)
  • EAI: This week's action conference delivered by ebizQ and TechTarget, formerly called "SOA in Action," was titled "SOA and Application Integration in Action."  This makes perfect sense, since the challenge SOA is addressing is bringing together a spaghetti mishmash of applications together for the business. (I had the opportunity to participate virtually here as well.)
  • BPM: IBM's Impact mega-event was previously called "SOA Impact."  The most recent event in May had a strong business process management focus.  This makes perfect sense, since business process management depends on the ability to de-construct and re-construct processes that are supported by automation.

So where is SOA as a discipline heading?  Yes, the hype cycle has clearly receded, and we're in the roll-up-our-sleeves-and-make-the-thing-work stage. SOA is behind the scenes, but what role will it play as we move into the 2010s?