Cynthia Rettig has an article worth reading this month in the MIT Sloan Management Review. The article entiitled, "The Trouble with enterprise software," doesn't break a lot of new ground but does provide some research justification to the naysayers. The use of multiple databases, lots of legacy applications and the complexity of making it all work together have conspired to make a software ball of string that may be impossible to untangle. At least that is my reading of the article. And the promise of software as a service to untangle the mess?
As the article notes, "The proposed fix for these problems -- the next new thing -- is service-oriented architecture. Basically, SOA proposes to overcome the problems involved with updating and changing legacy systems by building modular cross-system business processes. These processes would connect the relevant pieces of functionality from various IT systems, thereby making it easier to change processes to adapt to new business goals. But technical realists point out that many difficult technical problems must be solved before SOA can become the backbone for a new strategic architecture, including robust protocols for accessing the applications, high quality integrated data stores and a sound methodology for managing the overall process."
I guess the upside is continued job security for those application integration software engineers.