The SOA Mandate

I recall attending a Gartner integration conference in 2003, ten years after Gartner’s Alexander Pasik introduced the term SOA. Attendees were still voicing skepticism with comments like “SOA is just a new term for <insert unrelated re-use technology name here>” or “is this just another fad I can wait out?” Since this introduction, there has been a gradual but steady growth in the acceptance of service-based integration over the last decade as a strategy to increase agility and time-to-market but not as a mandate. SOA Mandate Image

A tipping point has finally occurred as a result of two recent trends, elevating the importance of SOA into a mandate for enterprise adoption for a large swath of medium to large size companies. The convergence of these two simultaneous trends are, for the first time, aggressively pushing SOA above the mandate threshold:

  1. Mobile Services are Different– At the most recent Gartner AADI event, the pre-event attendee survey indicated for the first time in several years that interest in “mobile enablement” jumped ahead of cloud which dropped to #2. During the keynote session, Gartner suggested a reason for mobile rising above cloud was due to companies having the option to slow down cloud adoption. For smartphone access, no such delay options exists. Customers have smartphones in their hands today and expect to interact with their accounts in an optimized mobile interface…simply put, smartphones have put urgency into mobile services. As Oracle SOA Suite customers have presented (Oracle OpenWorld 2012), mobile demands “mobile-sized” services that are different from existing service calls designed to support large amounts of data for large screen sizes over transmission rates that are far more reliable than intermittently limited mobile networks. The stronger the need for multiple types of service calls, the stronger the driver for getting serious about SOA
  2. Cloud Creating a More Disparate Infrastructure – In years past, most of the applications were on-premise and installed by the internal IT department, giving IT a stronger upfront role in the selection of the application and placing some priority on how well this application will integrate with the existing infrastructure. Now that more applications are cloud based, lines-of-business are able to select, and “deploy” new SaaS applications into production (initially uncoupled from existing enterprise applications) and therefore delay IT participation. Since every new cloud application vendor has its own specifications and techniques that it mandates for integration with their product, the relative uniformity of yesterdays purely on-premise infrastructure is rapidly disappearing. When IT gets involved for integration of the SaaS app with the existing infrastructure a full-featured integration platform supporting what is known as “any-to-any” transformation is a proven method to future-proof the infrastructure to support the next SaaS application. This point was highlighted by Oracle SOA Suite customer Geeta Pyne during the Oracle session at Gartner AADI and mentioned in a prior blog post.

What’s different about these two trends is a sense of urgency. In contrast to the classic drivers for SOA such as the need to enable businesses to roll out services faster, lower costs, and lower risk that were frequently addressed slowly, mobile service enablement and integrating disparate cloud applications can’t wait. As early adopters of SOA are proving out, having a service infrastructure in place allowed for rapid support of mobile services and integration of disparate cloud applications into the enterprises.

We are certainly well past the point of questioning the value of SOA. Instead…more and more enterprise companies are deciding SOA is a mandate for them to be able to deliver mobile services faster and support any new cloud application that joins the application infrastructure and maybe most importantly, gives them the flexibility to support a third trend when it arrives.

For more on cloud integration and mobile services enablement, follow this Oracle SOA blog and the social media channels highlighted on this page.

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