Survey: Done right, SOA pays

Best-in-class companies implementing full SOA-enabled middleware have seen appreciable decreases in application development costs, gains in end-user satisfaction

Is your company a best-in-class enterprise or a laggard when it comes to SOA adoption? Is you're part of a best-in-class operation, chances are good you have seen appreciable payback from your SOA efforts. If you're a laggard, well, chances are you're still fussing around with Just a Bunch of Web Services.

Aberdeen Group recently surveyed about 400 companies and found that there is a split in the market, between those simply deploying Web services applications (which they call "SOA Lite") and companies building out a full SOA middleware infrastructure. (A link to the report's PDF file is here.) The survey is underwritten, in part, by BEA and Hitachi Consulting.

Overall, Aberdeen defined about 20% of the survey group as "best-in-class" enterprises. Another 50% were "average," and at least 30% could be considered "laggards" (you know who you are...).

The best in class companies have taken the lead with full SOA deployments -- 56% report SOA-enabled middleware deployments, versus 45% with mainly Web services deployments (doesn't equal 100% due to rounding).

In contrast, only 11% of the laggard companies reported full SOA deployments, versus 43% mainly involved with Web services. (And, apparently, we can presume the remaining 46% had absolutely nothing going on -- Go laggards!)

SOA efforts have paid off well for these best in class companies, Aberdeen found. All of the BICs, 100%, say they saw reductions in their application development costs. By contrast, only 59% of the average companies could say this, along with 14% of the laggards. (Way to hang in there, laggards!)

Likewise, while 89% of the BICs said customer satisfaction levels went up, this dropped to 69% among the average companies -- which isn't too shabby. Among our friends, the laggards, however, only 14% could claim increases in users satisfaction levels. (Points for honesty, laggards!)

In addition, the BICs have adopted the SOA ethic in many other ways. At least 29%, for example, have deployed SOA governance software, compared to 17% of the Average Joes and 6% of the laggards. In addition, 61% of the BICs have retrained their application development teams in the SOA way -- compared to 24% of the average companies and 29% of the laggards.

Surprisingly, there is one area the laggards are keeping up with the BICs, however -- 33% within each group are employing new processes to test and assure the QA of their SOA applications. (See laggards, there's hope for you yet!)

Aberdeen draws this conclusion about the relationship between a robust SOA effort, and simply plodding along with Web services:

"Best-in-Class companies understand that SOA is a complex approach to application development, and they are making key investments not only in SOA middleware, but also in enabling technologies such as automated testing software. Governance practices, both runtime and design-time, are crucial parts of any SOA strategy; Best-in-Class companies are placing as much emphasis on them as they are on middleware itself."


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