Survey: no SOA 'fiascos' out there, so far

Crisis? What crisis? New vendor survey finds widespread success, so far

It's only natural that vendor-sponsored research would show an impending "crisis" in one form or another that, of course, the vendor's products can purportedly solve.

That's why I was surprised to see an SOA survey from one vendor that said, basically, everything is honky-dory, even among non-customers in the survey.

In fact, the survey, commissioned by SOA vendor AmberPoint and based on responses from 330 companies, finds more than 98% of the respondents with SOA in production rate their SOA implementations as "successful" to some degree.

Thirty-eight percent said their projects were completely successful, and 60% described their projects as "partially" successful. Most respondents (282) are not AmberPoint customers, and to the vendor's credit, it is publicizing this high success rate -- it usually is in a vendor's best interest to play up the crisis aspect. Some would have taken that 38% complete success rate number and tacked the word "only" in front of it.

In fact, of those who have deployed SOA applications, only 1.5% report that their resulting systems were “not successful.” None, zero, reported that their SOA effort resulted in a total "fiasco."

If this survey is even only half right, then this is encouraging news for those that want to drive SOA forward in their organizations.

However, when a survey or poll comes in showing a 98% success rate with something, you have to look twice and three times at the survey to make sure it isn't too good to be true. Did AmberPoint apply a rigorous, uniform definition of an "SOA deployment," or did it rely on respondents' perceptions that they had "SOA" going on?

AmberPoint pointed out that only end-user organizations -- not vendors or systems integrators -- were measured. Plus, the survey was conducted among people who should be fairly savvy to SOA: "a database of IT professionals who have an understanding for SOA concepts and methodologies.... a large population of architects, operations staff and developers."

And, AmberPoint also said, this wasn't "pure" textbook SOA at play here. More than 90% of the implementations had "non-Web services" or even "Non-SOA components" (AmberPoint's words) to them. Nearly 70% of survey respondents have packaged applications (such as SAP) in their systems. Nearly 60% stated they use messaging other than SOAP (such as MQ or RMI). Nearly half of the respondents tie mainframes into their SOA systems.

A third of the survey group, 33%, had SOA already in production that covered multiple departments or extended to customers/partners. The remainder were either still in pilot stages or had efforts confined to single departments.The greatest challenge to SOA? Lack of SOA expertise, cited by 68% of the respondents. This tells us that even if SOA-related budgets were cut and scaled back, we're unlikely to see cuts in staffing. Only 21% were concerned about the costs of SOA, anyway.

Another 59% said they have hit organizational resistance to their SOA efforts, which suggests that even with high success rates, educating business management on the benefits is still a must.