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The East/West SOA Divide


In the past, American adoption of technologies such as CORBA, DCE and J(2)EE has typically out stripped Europe, Japan and other "first world" countries. However, a recent report indicates that for SOA adoption this may not be the case. As the authors point out, most of the oft-quoted SOA success stories are in Europe, Canada, Asia and Australia, with companies in these geographical areas apparently more ready to embrace SOA than their American counterparts. But what are the reasons for this? Is it, as the authors posit, that large vendors dominate the US market and create so much noise about SOA as to confuse "local" users? Or is it that EAI was so dominant in the US compared to elsewhere that it is difficult for SOA based solutions to break the strangle-hold? The only thing that appears to be globally accepted, according to the report, is that SOA has reached acceptance much faster than previous technologies.

The report discusses a number of possible reasons for European dominance of the take-up of SOA. These include that enterprise architecture as a practice is more widely respected and practiced in Europe than it is in the US. As the report says:

Some believe that the IT community in the US is perceived as developer-centric, coding cowboys that care not a whit about architecture. (“Architects? We don’t need no stinkin’ architects.”) While this is a generalization that most likely isn’t true, most large European-based IT shops see enterprise architecture as a way to guarantee that projects don’t go off into the weeds with developers doing their thing without a central coordinating philosophy and organization.

There's also the fact that, due to acquisitions and consolidation activities, many large US firms now have European centric development organizations which lead the SOA effort. Of course there are SOA developments occurring in the US, even for companies with European HQs. It's just that the results indicate that the US isn't ahead as much as would perhaps be expected. This may be a natural effect of the globalization of IT that has been steadily happening over the past few years. As companies are finding with off-shoring efforts in call-centers, banking etc, country borders are quickly becoming irrelevant: work goes where the people and costs dictate. Prior to the general acceptance of the Internet as a critical part of a vendor's infrastructure, globalization didn't exist:

The result was technology adoption that followed the modes of vendor density, marketing dollars, and direct sales outreach: North America followed by Europe and then Japan, Australia, the remainder of Asia, and then Middle East and Africa.

It would appear that the European culture and organizations have a greater desire to adopt SOA than the US. Europe may also have more to gain from the benefits SOA offers, such as loose-coupling and Service reuse.

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Community comments

  • SOA Adoption in Europe

    by Tiberiu Fustos,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    I agree with the conclusions of the research in the sense that indeed the "showcase" studies are mainly European companies.
    This however is a big difference to effective adoption. A recent initiative by the german IT specialist magazine "Computerwoche" showed that only 7% of the companies with over 100 employees had on-going SOA initiatives. There is an entire analysis on the topic in an article with the significant title "SOA - A paper tiger for German users community" (only in German:

    What is interesting beyond the incredible push of the vendors is the significant difference in opinions between the quoted experts. It ranges all the way from "SOA is all about processes" (coming of course from a major BPM vendor to "SOA is only an IT issue" (funnily a quote from one of the showcase SOA companies). The article also mentions that while SOA promises cost savings it starts by a massive investment in new software (ESB etc.).

    Maybe that unlike CORBA, DCOM, EAI etc. - SOA is mainly an umbrella under which many common-sense, established cocepts and competing products find a good and warm place (very much like eBusiness was in the '90s :-) ).

  • Terminology-nazi response

    by David Karnowski,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    In terms of topic your article is very interesting, but the terminology-nazi within me can't let some of the language you used slide:

    1) Your "East/West Divide" title seems to imply that Canada, Europe, and Australia are not considered part of the "West" which, according to your article, only comprises of the US. While "East/West" is probably a poor term to use at all (it was more about industrialized status and political ideology than location), it has historically included all of Western Europe, Canada, and you can throw in Australia as well.
    2) "First world" is not the politically correct term anymore since the collapse of the Soviet Union. "Developed world" and "Developing world" are the more current terms, but even they are breaking down as China, India, and Eastern Europe are straddling a gray area between them.

    Anal-retentively signing off,

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