According to a survey by Gartner, the number of enterprises planning to adopt service-oriented architecture is dropping.
Gartner researchers said that although the majority of large organizations are moving ahead with SOA, a growing number are deferring plans.
Since the beginning of 2008, there has been a dramatic fall in the number of organizations that are planning to adopt SOA for the first time, according to Gartner. In fact, it appears to be a continual decline. In 2008, the number of enterprises planning SOA adoption was cut by more than one-half, down to 25 percent from 53 percent in 2007, while the number of organizations with no plans to adopt SOA more than doubled from 6 percent in 2007 to 16 percent in 2008.
“Organizations without a clear business case for SOA and without a plan to develop or acquire the necessary skills are justified in taking a cautious approach and delaying SOA adoption plans for the coming year,” said Daniel Sholler, research vice president at Gartner. “The focus should be on creating shared services and the governance processes necessary for sharing within a reasonable domain. Larger organizations [more than 5,000 employees] are challenged to create enterprise governance.”
Moreover, the number of organizations that are already pursuing SOA shows a big change in the future perception of SOA, from something that was essentially inevitable for all organizations in a short time to a situation where many organizations have evaluated SOA and have chosen not to spend time and effort on it, Gartner officials said.
“As more organizations gain experience with the true efforts and costs required to use SOA, and the benefits that they gain from doing it, it creates a sounder basis for making business decisions around whether to pursue it at this time,” Sholler said. “The result of this is that the later adopters have a clearer business choice, and that by taking an inherently cautious stance, it is not surprising that a higher proportion would choose not to pursue SOA.”
Two Reasons Enterprises Are Not Pursuing SOA
Overall, the two major reasons why organizations choose not to pursue SOA are a lack of skills and expertise, and no viable business case, the Gartner study showed. If the business case has been tested and is not viable, then there is no reason to do it. However, Gartner officials said there appears to be much confusion about how to construct a business case for SOA.
Between May and July of 2008, Gartner conducted a series of surveys about the adoption, use, benefits and practices for SOA. This included an initial sample of more than 200 companies worldwide with more than 1,000 employees. There were three subsequent phases to survey attendees at Gartner conferences with SOA-related subject matter. These subsequent surveys had a total of 119 respondents that met the screening criteria, Gartner said.
According to the survey, 53 percent of the respondents were already using SOA in some part of their organizations. Another 25 percent were not using it but had plans to do so in the next 12 months; and 16 percent had no plans to use SOA at all. About 20 percent were building event-driven architectures, and 20 percent were planning to do so in the next 12 months.
However, although the Gartner survey relies on survey data, not all analysts see the same things in the results. Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink, which does a lot of research in the SOA space, said:
“They’re picking up on two trends: organizations that haven’t shown sufficient value with SOA, and are thus scaling back in the face of the downturn, combined with the fact that SOA is becoming more mainstream, and as such, SOA best practices are becoming generally accepted enterprise architecture best practices. The second trend is the more subtle, since an increasing number of organizations are doing SOA without calling the projects SOA projects. Surveys, unfortunately, don’t pick up on the second trend if they simply ask people about their SOA efforts.”
“Use of modern programming environments is closely associated with SOA,” Sholler said. “This suggests that more organizations are focusing on SOA in the context of new developments that use Java, Microsoft .NET and some of the dynamic programming languages, such as Perl, Python, PHP and Ruby. Organizations should think about options when applying SOA in legacy programming environments because skills blending the two will likely be scarce.”
Gartner found that the enterprises planning not to adopt SOA represent a diverse group. The highest concentrations of organizations not pursuing SOA and having no plans to do so are in process manufacturing and agriculture and mining, Gartner said.
The survey also found that the adoption of SOA and the plans for adoption vary widely by region. Overall, SOA adoption in Europe is widespread, moderate in North America and lagging in Asia, the Gartner study showed. In Europe, current adoption rates are very high, and only a tiny percentage of organizations having no plans for adoption in the future, Sholler said.
In North America, the adoption rate is high, but a low number of organizations have committed to adopt SOA in the next 12 months, and a fairly high proportion has no plans to pursue SOA, he said. The picture in Asia is quite different, where adoption is less than half of that in other regions, and where the majority of organizations are not planning to pursue SOA within the next 12 months, Sholler said.