SOA: Hype vs. Reality: Page 2

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Finally Calling Vendors

As if SOA vendors weren’t frustrated enough in their desire to sell this new technology, some of the early adopters did their SOA projects in-house. They hired no outside help. Many of the early adopters wanted to tinker and play without having third party input (and without third party expense).

These early pioneers launched modest projects. “They started very small. Very concrete, and tangible, and fairly limited types of projects,” Hedin says. “Then they moved from one small project to another project."

But things are now changing, she says.

She’s hearing from companies that began SOA initiatives years ago, on their own, like ADP, Olsen Energy, the City of Chicago, and Amtrak. “And as they started to feel more and more comfortable, and learning the pros and cons, building their own skill set around SOA, they are now starting to bring in vendors to help them expand their initiative into other departments.”

They’re opening their pocketbooks to vendors because they’re trying to roll out SOA to a larger group of users within the enterprise. These more ambitious rollouts require, among other things, a well-articulated business case – a specialty of vendors.

“The clients have laid a foundation, but now they need additional help to roll this out and do more complex stuff.”

Okay, Then SOA is Finally Ready To Take Off, Right?

Given that SOA is starting to see some momentum in adoption, will 2007 be “The Year of SOA”?

“It is a little difficult because we keep on saying that every year,” Hedin says, laughing. “You get a little cynical about saying that. We said that in 2005, we said that in 2006, are we going to say that again in 2007?”

The problem is, there’s nothing simple about SOA.

“In its attempt to simplify things, it actually makes them more complex, it creates more complexity,” Hedin says. “It’s sort of an oxymoron in a way. As [companies] are rolling out SOA, there are so many organizational change issues that need to be addressed.”

Apart from the sheer technical complexity, full-scale deployment of SOA requires deep interdepartmental shifts. No wonder it’s slow going.

“The IT department’s relationship with the business side also has to change. The IT side has to understand the business side – finally. They need to understand what the requirements are so that the IT department can create these applications and services to really support the business.”

So How Long Is It Really Going to Take?

So, okay, SOA is just starting to gain real acceptance in the enterprise in 2007. Does that mean that by, say, 2009, it will be really taking over?

“It’s going to take longer than that,” Hedin says. “We’re talking about a very, very long journey here. There are going to be some enterprises who have SOA throughout the organization. There will only be a handful, a few of them, I think we’ll probably count them on our hands.”

“For example, I’ve been talking to Washington mutual, and there are SOA projects here and there, but you can’t say they are enterprise-wide yet. They have a little project over in that department, a little project over in that department. And they have different vendors helping them with that. But is it enterprise-wide yet? No, and it will probably take a number of years.”

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