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Survey Shows SOA Growing Strong

by Mark Little on Mar 29, 2009 |

A recent survey on SaaS and BPM trends, conducted earlier this year, also concludes that:

Despite some bad press of SOA at the start of the year, SOA is in fact motoring forward. Among the survey respondents, 49% said their organization has one or more SOA projects under way, and 60% characterize their current or future SOA projects as enterprise level as opposed to departmental/divisional level (21%), or single, isolated projects (19%). Still, respondents admit, there are hurdles for broader SOA deployment.

In terms of BPM, 29.7% of them marked it as a critical area for their organization, with 35.8% counting it amongst infrastructure that they already use. But given the recent emphasis on the Death Of SOA, it's their findings on SOA adoption that are timely:

Today's SOA projects are largely about integration. The top benefits organizations hope to achieve are improved data integration (32%), enable legacy application integration (32%) and integrated disparate department applications (23%), followed by cost cutting (21%). Staying competitive (8.4%) and driving innovation (8%) tracked low on the expected benefits list.

According to Dave Chappell (Oracle), this matches his experiences in the field. Ron Schmelzer of Zapthink believes that the emphasis on integration for SOA in the survey shows:

"how far we've gotten from the original understanding of what SOA is. It reflects the fact that 90%-plus of people thinking they're doing SOA are really doing Web services/enterprise application integration. They just got rid of the adapters. SOA has to be an architectural approach. I think we can squarely blame the vendors for this. They say 'if you want to do SOA, buy our product.' That's a complete fallacy."

According to the original article, Gartner analyst Massimo Pezzino credits the current economic climate with a change in emphasis on what people expect to achieve with adopting SOA.

Back in June when Gartner asked survey respondents a similar question about SOA benefits, "the top benefits expected were agility, innovation, and were more focused on helping organizations become more competitive [and] agile," [Massimo] said. Now, however, "what we're finding is when customers invest in SOA technology today they go for low-hanging fruit; the economy is responsible in a big way."

The article has futher quotes from users of SOA who consider they have examples of successful SOA in a variety of areas including military and healthcare. The survey also showed that grid, cloud and SaaS offer further opportunities for SOA, with for example many organizations integrating SaaS in the context of their SOA infrastructure.

Indeed, according to the survey, the predominant types of service-based applications planned for the future are: on-demand SaaS (62%), Web services for mobile apps (60%) and composite application assembly (58%).

But it's not all rosy information from the survey. Hurdles still remain for SOA including the lack of skills and SOA governance as important problems. In the TechTarget article they point out that most people new to SOA don't see the lack of governance as an issue initially because they are working in small scale deployments or simply don't have the necessary experience to understand the benefits it can offer. But Massimo (and the survey) conclude that without good SOA governance it is difficult to realize the full benefits of SOA. In fact these aspects of the survey are also born out through separate Gartner investigations, Massimo adds.

Let's leave the last word to Dave Chappell:

There's not much earth-shattering [in the survey] to me, as I hear and see this stuff all the time from customers. But it is good to see some sobering industry validation amidst all the anti-hype.

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