Roger Sippl is convinced that the SOA movement is not getting the traction it deserves because the true benefits of SOA are not being articulated. As founder and CEO of Above All Software, Sippl is pressing the case for what he calls "the composite enterprise."
In an interview, he tells me that when he started his company more than three years ago he had "the wild-eyed optimism that web services would be everywhere now." He expected the demand for composite applications -- which pull together the functionality of various isolated apps -- would be huge. "We thought we were going to build tools to help companies enjoy the composite enterprise," Sippl says, explaining that it intended to be providing the "metadata repository" that would assemble all web services-enabled applications.
Instead, the company is presently focused on helping companies build architectures that enable the assemblage of composite apps. In some cases, it must web services enable existing APIs.
Sippl says he has seen an evolution like this before. Back when he started Informix in the early 1980s, customers had to be convinced to invest in relational databases. They had to see the benefits (such as superior reporting). He now sees SOA as a 3-6 year evolution.
What is the lever that should encourage executives to invest in SOA now? "The number one thing is composite applications that need to be able to easily assemble an application that deals with customers, orders and shipments," says Sippl, noting that they now tend to live in three completely different silos. He suspects that at most companies there are hundreds of valuable composite applications that could be generated from dozens of data silos. "I don't think that gets said enough. But that's the endgame. That's the payoff. That's why you would build an SOA."