Big companies across all sectors, we're told, are building SOA infrastructure. Business analysts and tech departments are eagerly putting aside their historic enmity to discuss upcoming SOA projects.
After all (and this part is true), SOA offers key competitive advantages. Over the years, companies have built computing infrastructures that combine a patchwork of environments, from Java to .NET to Sun Solaris. SOAs promise is that it can integrate these disparate worlds to create unified interfaces (called services) for employees and customers.
Thats a big deal. Its reasonable to believe that companies would be rushing to implement SOA.
But no. Despite the rich harvest that SOA offers, companies have been slow to plant the seed. In the early days of 2002-03, SOA was mostly just a glimmer in the eyes of vendors. For several years, the vendors were way ahead of the market no question about that. IBM especially, says Marianne Hedin, an IDC analyst who covers SOA.
To create excitement, vendors issued a profusion of press releases and held copious workshops with free donuts. In response, they got a lot of polite nods. Vendors made a big deal out of this, but nothing much was happening out in the market at that point, Hedin notes.
And not all that much has continued to happen. I think in the beginning, back in 2004 and 2005, they were a little disappointed that it was slow. And in 2006, they were hoping, Oh yeah, this is a big year for SOA. And it really didnt pan out to be a big year.
While she hastens to add that things are starting to progress, its not as if SOA is on the lips of every IT decision maker. Based on a 2006 survey by IDC, only 23 percent of companies have a SOA project in production, with another 18 percent having one in pilot stage. Thats a tentative embrace of SOA, given that 22 percent either dont know if theyll invest or have no plans to invest.
More positively, 37 percent plan on investing in the next 1-2 years. (Although as Hedin notes, "Thinking about it is different than doing it.)
Still, the land rush is yet to happen. I think the vendors expected a much faster growth rate in terms of adoption, she says.
(Graphic by IDC, from Nov. 2006 report)
Seeing Their Neighbor Do It
Perhaps the most convincing factor prompting companies to begin dipping a toe in the SOA waters is hearing that other companies are doing so.
Now in 2007, there are a healthy handful of success stories. As enterprises started to hear from their peers that theyre adopting SOA, and seeing demonstrated cases with benefits then it obviously started to become more of a compelling issue to look at, Hedin says.
Confidence levels are starting to creep up. The combination of vendors, showing cases, and the media, publishing cases, is started to help, she says. Companies are starting to think, Oh, this is actually happening, this is a real thing Maybe we should be on board here, and at least learn about it, at least find out what the benefits are to our particular situation.