SOA Adoption Chasms

There are a great many number of SOA Maturity Models in the marketplace which assists an organization to know where they currently reside in their SOA efforts but does not give any indication on the types of challenges they will probably encounter. A while back I decided to look how BEA customers were adopting SOA and the types of challenges they were "generally" encountering. This year I was the host of the Arch2Arch conferences in San Diego and Boston and I opened up the conference with the following diagram. View larger image

SOA Adoption Curve - Issues

Using a traditional adoption curve for SOA, I have highlighted a number of chasms and challenges that organizations have/will encounter. Exceptions exist for every rule but in essence the model describes in a generic fashion the market penetration of any new technology/paradigm such as SOA in terms of various types of consumers. Each consumer has a number of chasms to address. Without addressing these chasms SOA will lose momentum in their respective organizations.

Innovators in the SOA Adoption life cycle have tended not to understand the breadth and depth of SOA and see SOA as purely a technology play. These companies have still yet to fully understand the opportunities and ramifications of SOA. SOA is not purely a technology play but encompasses all aspects of an IT strategy and developers must understand that developing JBOWS is not SOA . Until this changes these companies will struggle to see any benefit from SOA.

Early adopters have the vision to see the strategic business impact that SOA can offer and utilize it to gain a competitive edge. These visionaries do not approach SOA as a single project but with a rollout as part of an wider initiative. Early Adopters have seen many benefits when deploying their initial projects within one line of business. But when these visionaries expanded their projects across several lines of business they did not achieve the same level of benefits that were encountered in the initial projects. This has been mainly down to the additional challenges that the extra human involvement and interaction brings.  For early adopters to cross this chasm, they must appreciate the need for an SOA governance model that addresses the decision and accountability required. This requires the early adopters to have the will power and authority to address the political and culture change aspects of SOA and to realize that tools alone such as service registries are enablers and the not the final solution.

The early majority appreciate the business benefits of SOA but are less risk averse to what they see as a high-risk proposition. These pragmatists wants to make sure that all SOA products have gone through multiple released versions and that published web service standards have matured to the point, where they are supported by the majority of mainstream products. In addition, the early majority want access to the best practices and anti-patterns that the innovators and early adopters have encountered.

The late majority tend to be very hesitant as SOA is classified as a discontinuous technology/paradigm which conservatives are against as it requires political and culture changing events to occur within their enterprises. Conservatives would rather concentrate on the current year objectives rather then on multi-year disruptive technology/paradigms which would affect the “Business as usual” culture. Conservatives will wait until SOA becomes an established standard not only in their industry but across multiple industries. At the end of the day the late majority will require a multitude of cross-industry SOA references with an intensive detailed ROI business case before investing substantially.

The laggards or in the case of SOA “The Skeptics”, either don’t understand the full scope of SOA or feel that there is a more risk-averse manner in which to achieve the same benefits that SOA offers. Skeptics believe that SOA is just marketing and hype and the benefits and approach to SOA is no different to the component reuse approach that has been touted before. Some laggards appreciate the issues that SOA is trying to address but feel that taking a single vendor approach to business applications will solve the issue

In my next blog I will show the part of this model which highlights the disciplines and focus areas to address these chasms and challenges.

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