Industry Views on SOA

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-01-07 Print this article Print


In the comments responding to Manes' post, Tim Vibbert, a software architect and SOA implementer at Lockheed Martin, said, "I totally agree with your assessment of the state of the SOA union. Without a commitment to changing the status quo, 'SOA' efforts fail. Most efforts focused on the platform stacks and not the enterprise. I've began to ask, 'What is your SOA motivation,' if not the business/enterprise then why do it at all?"

Dana Gardner, an analyst with Interarbor Solutions, wrote in Manes' comments: "Could be that the enterprises that dismiss SOA, nomenclature or computing shift, will be all the more ready to hand off more of their IT functions to the SAAS and cloud providers that do do SOA well and pervasively. In other words, you'll do SOA one way or another ... it's just whether it's your competency or your cloud provider's."

John Crupi, CTO of enterprise mashup software provider JackBe, said, "SOA for SOA's sake is dead. SOA with a purpose is the key. We believe SOA will be relegated to data services and the focus (aka purpose) will be the user and mashups."

Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink, commented, "We've been seeing this trend for a few years now-the business doesn't want 'SOA,' never did. The business wants solutions to problems. 'SOA' has become a bad word. But SOA-that is, the best practices of service orientation-are vitally important, broadly adopted, and now mainstream. After all, you can't do Cloud Computing without SOA-but you can definitely do it without 'SOA.' The bottom line is that SOA is a somewhat loose collection of architectural best practices. It's up to the architects to know which best practices are appropriate for solving the business problem at hand. And as it happens, one of those best practices is not to call what you're doing 'SOA.'"

Bloomberg's ZapThink partner, Ronald Schmelzer, said, "To say SOA is dead, either as a term or as a concept is misguided." Schmelzer said SOA never had sex appeal, but it was never meant to have it.

"So, is 'SOA' dead either as a concept or simply as a term?" Schmelzer asked in an interview with eWEEK. "Of course not. What has replaced it? What explains its lack of value? The concepts we now discuss are other ones, or ones that simply build on the ideas of SOA. SOA has simply faded from the limelight as other new topics command our attention. But as a foundational concept of computing, and one that companies still struggle to implement, SOA is alive and well."

Schmelzer took his argument a step further, noting that there has been a surge in SOA training and SOA engagements over the past year. He added:

Anne is simply in the echo chamber, and the chamber has stopped echoing on the topic of SOA. So what? Now, let's get down to details and make this thing work. Show me a company that has truly mastered agility and flat cost of change in the face of continuing heterogeneity, and I'll say we have achieved SOA success. All the rest are on that path. To say it's not worth it to pursue that path is misguided. To say that since the topic of SOA has faded from the pundits' view is evidence of its demise is equally misguided.

Perhaps the company that has made the most hay, and perhaps money, out of the SOA model is IBM. Sandy Carter, vice president of SOA and WebSphere strategy, channels and marketing at IBM, said, "We are seeing growth in SOA adoption in this economic client because of the value it delivers. In fact, the number of customers leveraging SOA with IBM has grown 28 percent since October of 2007."

Carter said IBM has 430 customers that started with a technology improvement project "and they started with SOA." Refuting Manes' theory on the use of the term "SOA" being a core issue, Carter said, "A rose by any other name is still a rose. I don't know that what you call it is important; I just don't know if that's relevant. The point should be what is the value SOA is bringing."

Moreover, Carter said several IBM customers are "working with services that are mashable and they're doing a lot of experimentation with [that] model, and because of SOA they're able to mash up new applications and test them."

Carter also said attendance for the IBM Impact 2009 "Smart SOA Conference" is expected to be strong even in the weak economy, and due to heavy demand IBM has had to put a cap on the number of customer speakers at the event to be held in Las Vegas in May.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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