SOA: Myth or Hype?

SOA is still in its infancy and like all new propositions comes with its own juxtaposition of inflated expectations versus cynicism. As I engage with enterprise customers in creating and executing multi-year SOA roadmaps, I have seen the multitude of benefits that SOA brings. But there are just as many challenges to SOA as there are benefits. Unless companies have a strategy to address these risks then very little of the benefits that SOA offers will be realized. Why have the majority of companies not come to this conclusion yet?

Education - There is still a gulf within companies in understanding the difference between a Service Oriented Architecture and a Web Services Architecture. SOA Education is key to not only executives but to the development community that SOA is not purely a technology play but encompasses all aspects of an IT strategy. Without this understanding the non-technical aspects of SOA will not be given its rightful focus. This is why BEA developed the SOA Domain Model to make sure that all areas of an IT Strategy around SOA are given an equal footing.

Pilot projects - Companies have seen many benefits when deploying their initial/pilot projects within one line of business. But when companies expand their projects across several lines of business they will not achieve the same level of benefits that were encountered in the pilot projects. This is mainly down to the additional challenges that the extra human involvement brings. Without addressing these additional challenges SOA initiatives will falter, benefits will not be realised and you may end up with multiple silo-ed SOA solutions.

Technology Only Solution - Companies believe they can solve all SOA challenges by technology alone. It is true that tools such as service registry can assist and streamline some of the challenges but unless the human factor is also addressed the best tools in the world will not help.

Working with enterprise customers, talking to colleagues and partners at recent conferences has highlighted the fact that The #1 reason why enterprises do not reap all of the benefits of SOA is due to the "Lack of SOA Governance or an inappropriate implementation of SOA Governance"

Companies require an appropriate SOA governance model to enable businesses to make dynamic and responsive decisions to make sure that all SOA decisions are effective and assist in realizing the benefits of SOA. There is no one single SOA governance model that fits all enterprises, so in future blogs I will try and explore an approach that companies can utilise to build a customised SOA governance model for your organization

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