There's been plenty of excitement -- and capital investment -- in on-demand or cloud computing applications over the past year or so. (Even though there may be some peril, as discussed in my last post.) But is the SOA market itself practicing the on-demand approach?
Time for SOA vendors to offer solutions SaaS-style
Not really, says Dave Linthicum, who challenges SOA vendors to start offering their solutions on an on-demand, SaaS-style basis (emphasis Dave's):
"What I'm proposing is that the existing SOA vendors provide the same model. In essence, they accept payment only after the product is in production and do so on a subscription-type basis, where the customer can cancel at any time. What's nice about this model is that it lowers the risk for the technology consumer and puts the focus on providing valuable technology now and for years to come. If you miss the mark and don't provide the value, the revenue stops. However, if you're a fit and the technology works as advertised, then you have reoccurring revenue for years to come."
For most technology vendors, Dave points out, this will be an "unnatural act," since they typically "require a large up-front payment to license the software, and than back-end maintenance agreements as well."
There are some examples of the on-demand model for SOA-enabling tools and platforms emerging. In a podcast last year, Dana Gardner, along with Anrai O'Toole, explored the possibilities of what is often referred to as "Integration as a Service." A few months after his podcast with Dana, Anrai practiced what he preached -- his company, ESB provider Cape Clear, offered up its ESB into the cloud. The company was absorbed into Workday, an online ERP provider, earlier this year.
MuleOnDemand, offered by MuleSource, is another example of ESB in the cloud. Microsoft has been experimenting with a similar approach with BizTalk Services, positioned as an "Internet Service Bus" for connecting services across the network from a platform hosted by Microsoft.
SOA tools and platforms from the cloud is certainly something that would be appealing for smaller organizations that lack the time and expertise to undertake SOA efforts, and don't have the luxury of maintaining something akin to a SOA center of excellence.
For larger organizations, let's turn this proposition around. SaaS/cloud computing is something that has not been widely adopted by larger organizations, because they have their own in-house expertise, and rely on large portfolios of mission-critical systems and networks to stay on top of their markets.
At this level, the SaaS/on-demand/cloud model may be an approach for selling SOA to the enterprise internally. Instead of an outside vendor being the supplier of services, the corporate IT department assumes this role. A service oriented architecture could serve as the basis of an "internal cloud" that offers services on an on-demand subscription (or chargeback) basis to various consumers across the enterprise.