Survey: SOA delivering; SOAP out, REST in

State of SOA: SOAP is in, REST is in
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

The ground under SOA -- long solid SOAP territory -- appears to be shifting to more lightweight service approaches. A new survey of 270 business professionals, just released by InformationWeek, finds that one out of four have moved into service oriented architecture, and many are opting more lightweight approaches such as REST over SOAP.

The survey found that 23% of respondents say that their organizations have deployed a SOA, and seven percent report that the resulting systems are available for external use. Twenty-nine percent are experimenting or in development, while 31% have no plans. This is in line with other surveys I have been involved with or seen over the past two to three years -- suggesting that the practice remains confined to about one out of four companies.

SOAP is out, REST is in when it comes to the protocols being deployed as part of SOA. When asked to indicate their past, present, and estimated future use of SOAP-based Web services vs. REST-based Web services, respondents show a marked drop-off in use of SOAP, from 54% a year ago to a projected 42% in the next 18 months. The number primarily using or considering REST-based Web services is predicted to grow by a proportional amount, from 14% to 24% over the same time frame.

Respondents are fairly bullish on their SOA efforts. Forty-one percent said they have achieved the results expected, while 13% say their SOA efforts have surpassed expectations. Twelve percent said they have been disappointed by SOA. (The remaining 34% say they have not gotten far enough with SOA to make a determination.)

While respondents see potential business benefits from SOA down the road, there hasn't been a lot of progress in one of its most touted benefits -- service reuse or sharing. InformationWeek reports that the percentage of overall software reuse within organizations was only marginally higher after initiating SOA, with a 32% reuse rate cited before the SOA project versus 39% after.

There's evidence of the issue that has been dogging SOA in recent times -- the survey found that the major reason respondents who aren't evaluating or implementing SOA cite for not pursuing the initiative is a lack of a viable business case--43% say it's because SOA initiatives have developed a reputation for overpromising and underdelivering.

The report also suggested there is a lack of governance as part of many SOA implementations, but no survey data is cited in the article.

The gist of the survey report is that there is a major shift taking place underneath of SOA efforts. SOA is not "dying," as suggested, but rapidly evolving to embrace new ways of working, such as REST. And, while there is much discussion in the business IT community of SOA's ongoing "failures," this survey (as well as previous surveys) say those organizations working with SOA are satisfied with the results so far.

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