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SOA Predictions for 2009

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It's that time of year where the industry tends to look back on the previous 12 months and try to make predictions about where we are going. For example, Eric Roch gives his top-ten predictions for 2009 which include:

2. Big bang SOA software projects shut down in favor of incremental projects with well defined ROI.

4. Difficulty in differentiating major SOA software vendor's offerings drives down software costs

5. Information technology looks to open source SOA as a way to save costs and will often opt-out of commercial support programs pressuring for profit open source even as adoption accelerates.

7. Arcane architecture terms like SOA, WOA and REST become less relevant as tools to support the technologies blur distinctions.

In a comment to Eric's post, Mike Kavis adds:

I also predict that Cloud Computing will take over the hype machine from SOA (if it hasn't already) and the same discussions we had with SOA will now occur with the clouds. You remember those: Real deal vs. next fad, talk to the business vs don't talk to the business, and all of the arguing over semantics and terminology.

In a separate article, Joe McKendrick takes a stab at some predictions too, while starting with a brief retrospective:

The year 2008 was the best of times and the worst of times for service oriented architecture. SOA seemed to become more and more pervasive across companies, and many companies in general seemed positive about the results being delivered so far. At the same time, there has been no shortage of anti-SOA backlash and skepticism about the return on investment and business value of SOA.

Joe's predictions, which have some agreements with Eric's, include:

1) Economic turmoil will return SOA to its roots - bottom up, incremental. Uncertainty in the economy will carry through 2009, but we’ll move into the recovery stage. However, this won’t change the razor-edge competitive environment - companies will continue to seek solutions that help streamline and cut costs. This is a natural role for SOA-based practices – remember, Web services and SOA were forged in the wake of the downturn of 2001 as a way to increase IT efficiency and value to the business with minimal additional investments.

3) Internal clouds and micro-outsourcing. There has been a lot of industry discussion about the “internal cloud,” in which services are provided to users and systems within organizations. The beauty of internal clouds, of course, is that they offer more control over applications and data. Clearly a natural role for SOA, which will be the backbone of any emerging internal clouds. As part of this role, expect to see SOA play a greater role in grid computing and virtualization as well.

Dana Gardner reports on what a range of analysts are predicting on enterprise IT, SOA, cloud and business intelligence, including:

High-Scale Business Intelligence (BI). Extreme BI will require a move up scale to larger sets of data, larger sets of content, and more mingling or joining of disparate types of data and content in order to draw inferences about what the customers are willing to do and pay across both B2B and B2C activities. We’ll start to see an increased use of multi-core and parallelism to support these BI activities.

Cloud Computing. Clouds are going to become less of a work in progress, in terms of public clouds and private clouds, and become more of a mature reality, in terms of how enterprises acquire functionality, how they acquire applications and platforms. Clouds will stratify, which means that the vendors, like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon and others with their cloud offerings, will build full stacks, strata, in their cloud services that include all the appropriate layers, application components, integration services, and platforms. So, the industry will converge on a more of a reference model for cloud in 2009.

Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC). Government is cracking down. If it has to bail out the financial-services industry, bail out the auto industry, and bail out other industries, the government is not going to do it with no strings attached. Compliance, regulations, reporting requirements, the whole apparatus of GRC will be brought to bear on the industries that the government is saving and bailing out.

Open Cloud Services. A big hole in the cloud computing movement so far is that most of the solutions out there, even the database solutions, are proprietary. They use different APIs, different interfaces, and different sets of standards. It’s going to be a play for a lot of companies to get in there and provide more reliable infrastructure in and between these various guys out there.

SOA Gets Cloudy. There’s going to be a larger focus on inter-domain SOA technology. The focus will still be on the short-term tactical and the ability to provide quick value in the SOA space to justify it, so you can get additional funding. As we start building these things, people are going to look at the departments that are implementing their SOA projects and try to figure out how to bind these things at an enterprise level. I call this the micro domain versus the macro domain. On the downside, the jig will be up for poor SOA technology vendors out there. Guys who haven’t been able to get acquired or haven’t been able to hit that inflection point … are going to eventually just going to have the plug pulled. And, 2009 is going to be when it’s going to happen. They’re just going to run out of steam. SOA predates when the buzzword was created, and it’s going to postdate when the word “SOA” was created. It’s going to morph into different things, and the cloud computing movement is going to get into it and define it in different directions. The whole SOA movement is going to be more defined by the cloud.

Finally, Zapthink presents their own retrospective on 2008 and predictions, which start with:

[...] we will see at least one notable and well-publicized SOA failure and one notable and well-publicized SOA success. So that we can accurately determine if we successfully called this prediction at this time next year, let’s define our terms. By “notable and well-publicized”, we mean that the company in question will be featured in at least one major IT industry trade magazine and perhaps even a major international news daily. The success or failure will have significant business impact specifically attributable to the organization’s adoption of SOA. On the success side, it might mean specific revenue, product release, merger and acquisition opportunity, or reduced liability directly attributable to a particular SOA project. On the failure side, it would mean a large investment in SOA, whose “failure” (as determined by the company in question) resulted in loss of revenue, market share, opportunity, compliance, or other negative impact. Either way, we will acknowledge that by this time next year, there will be at least one undisputed success and one undisputed failure due to SOA.

For their next prediction Zapthink share a view on cloud computing and SOA that we have heard from others:

We have already started to hear more about cloud computing and anything cloud-related as the year drew to a close. We expect the din of the cloud-related chatter to turn into a real roar by this time next year. Everything SOA-related will probably be turned into something cloud-related by all the big vendors, and companies will desperately try to turn their SOA initiatives into cloud initiatives. Time will tell if this emphasis on cloud computing is a good thing for the future of SOA and IT, but we are hopeful that some of the themes that are emerging in cloud computing will borrow heavily from what was learned about SOA, and Service-oriented cloud computing initiatives become the rule in 2009, rather than the exception.

Only time will tell as to which, if any, of the predictions mentioned above prove accurate. But it is interesting to see the inherent agreement on certain topics, such as cloud computing, governance and small-scale SOA.

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