10 Tips for Getting Started with SOA

Dig around a little and you'll find that service-oriented architecture is worthy of much of the hype it receives. But if you are just starting out, can your business and infrastructure handle all the complexities? Here are 10 tips for approaching SOA successfully before over-committing, over-paying and under-delivering.

As service-oriented architecture technologies and practices have gained the attention of CIOs and executive teams for showing business value, more and more IT managers are facing the prospect of trying out SOA for the first time. Just last year, SOA expanded by 100 percent, according to a study released by AMR Research. Analyst firm Gartner believes that by 2010 more than 80 percent of large, new systems will use SOA in at least some part of their design.

SOA offers distinct advantages to organizations with distributed and dynamic IT environments.

"The reason we use SOA is to allow things to change without causing them to break," said Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst and managing partner at ZapThink. "We're trying to introduce this whole variable and flexible approach."

But SOA can introduce a lot of complexity into an environment and isn't always as simple to implement as it first seems, said Randy Heffner, an analyst and vice president at Gartner specializing in enterprise architecture.

"Sometimes people, having heard of SOA, understanding at a high level that it's an important thing to do will begin to think, ok, we've got to launch into this, and so they'll say we're going to plan to do it in the next year, and then they get into it and figure out, well, wait a minute, industry is talking about this in different ways and what does it really mean for us?" Heffner said. "It takes a while to get started on it."

In order to help those organizations who are thinking about dipping their toes into SOA waters, Baseline asked both Schmelzer and Heffner for tips on how to approach SOA successfully and compiled the following list.

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