Ten SOA business realities

Ten half-baked ideas and fearless predictions on where SOA is taking us.

This past week, I had the opportunity to do a presentation at SOA World East in New York, in which I explored some of the issues facing organizations making the crossing from JBOWS (Just a Bunch of Web Services, of course) to fully functioning SOA.

I discussed some of the Evans Data research I have worked on that showed most organizations, if anything, are still stepping out of the JBOWS stage and just starting to get their arms around the various pieces that make up SOA: governance and registries, ESBs business process management, and service sharing/reuse, to name a few.

Though I didn't have a chance to check out all three days, SOA World had a very compelling program that explored a lot of these issues -- as well as newer approaches such as Web 2.0 and Ajax.

Dave Linthicum, also a participant at SOA World, made this interesting observation while attending one of the case studies given during the general sessions: "The focus was more on the technology and vendors they selected, ESB, governance, etc., and not on how they derived the solution and the method and process for doing so. At the end of the day I felt that what they really had was a JBOWS (just a bunch of Web services) with some fancy software around it. I hope they solved their business issues, but from the presentation it was not clear."

Dave also said vendors knew their technology well, but really couldn't explain how their products fit into SOA efforts. "SOA technology vendors need to teach as well as sell," Dave says.

To provide a brief recap of my session, here some of the half-baked ideas (HBIs) -- or fearless predictions -- I made about the future of SOA:

  • Most organizations are not at the full-functioning SOA stage yet. They are still managing a JBOWS environment, and will be at this stage for a while. (I've said plenty about this in this blog.)
  • The SOA Paradox: The organizations that are adopting SOA are the ones that don't need SOA. The organizations that could really use SOA the most are not likely to be adopting it anytime soon.
  • The "loosely coupled" ethic of SOA will influence companies to become "loosely coupled businesses" themselves.
  • SOA, SaaS, and open source will give rise to application vendors that follow the "Dell" model -- assemble components to order; don't make them yourself.
  • SOA, SaaS, and open source will provide opportunities for microbusinesses to sell pieces of applications, on demand.
  • Vendors will lose interest in the term "SOA" -- prepare to hear more about next-gen solutions, such as Event Driven Architecture or Enterprise 2.0.
  • More convergence between SOA and enterprise data management -- companies are anxious to turn data into competitive advantage as fast as they can; SOA will enable this.
  • More SOAs will be built on open source software. Already, there are an impressive array of open-source app servers, ESBs, and business process management solutions out there. This will commoditize SOA solutions, and disrupt what is currently a lucrative market for high-end vendors.
  • SOA success will be uneven. As mentioned above, some organizations are more ready to take advantage of SOA than others.
  • SOA will play a greater role for budget-conscious companies looking to control IT costs.