SOA and the Government: A Slow Process: Page 3

Posted September 26, 2006

James Maguire

James Maguire

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Cost Benefit?

Another possible factor hindering federal adoption of SOA – though not addressed by the study – is that the financial benefit of this new technology is not yet specifically quantified. A SOA sales rep can’t simply say, “Your dollars spent today will save you 35% in the years ahead.”

“In the current world, I don’t think there are those sort of empirical financial considerations yet because SOA still is pretty early,” Holahan says. But SOA vendors are now working to create detailed cost benefit analysis.

Mark Zalubus, CTO of Merlin International, notes that SOA’s return on investment may take time to fully achieve. “Typically, when you create those services, especially for reuse, they tend to be a little more expensive than building an object or a service for a onetime use or for a specific purpose. Where the real benefits arise is later down the line, when there are a critical mass of services in the marketplace that can then be consumed by people with unique ideas.”

Developing a number of SOA-based services that act in concert – creating something larger than the sum of its parts – is the Holy Grail of this new technology, Zalubus tells Datamation. This could eventually take place in federal agencies. Disparate agencies, from a mapping agency to the Social Security administration, could tap into a suite of integrated applications.

Regardless of the today’s ROI from SOA, investing in this new technology is about preparing for the future, he says.

“Why would I choose to use SOA? Because the world changes.” That is, new technologies emerge without forewarning, from the Internet to PDA to wireless. This creates a challenge: “Now I’ve got these old applications, and I need to make them fit the new world…in the past we’ve been pretty stuck.”

So SOA’s payoff “may come for something in the future. And I can’t assess that at the time I build my app, but I know that the static apps that I’ve built for the last 30 years are holding me back.”

However, “If I’ve architected on a SOA and a very flexible infrastructure, I can accommodate new regulations, new technologies, and new sequencing…very easily.”

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