SOA Still Alive and Well--Sell it to the Business

By David A. Chappell
January 8, 2009 | Comments: 5

In case you need to catch up, Anne Thomas Manes of Burton Group declared that "SOA met its demise on January 1, 2009, when it was wiped out by the catastrophic impact of the economic recession!".

In her posting, she states -

Service-orientation is a prerequisite for rapid integration of data and business processes; it enables situational development models, such as mashups; and it's the foundational architecture for SaaS and cloud computing. (Imagine shifting aspects of your application portfolio to the cloud without enabling integration between on-premise and off-premise applications.) Although the word "SOA" is dead, the requirement for service-oriented architecture is stronger than ever

I am happy to see that there's renewed energy to try and find something new among some of my industry colleagues whom I respect. I'm not against finding a new name for this thing that we have been until-recently-referring-to-as-SOA but I still am looking for a reason why. Dave Linthicum claimed he predicted it would become less important, asked "Could the death of SOA bring it back to life?" , and purported that Anne Manes had simply signed and dated the certificate of death for it. Miko Matsumura and I had some fun with the whole thing, and the Yahoo!Groups service-orientated-architecture forum had a field day with it.

Jack Vaughan of SearchSOA.com recently posted an interesting case study of a SOA at National City Bank that succeeded, yet eventually failed because the credit crisis came along and a government-forced merger with PNC Financial Services Group took its toll. In Jack's posting he asks

If one SOA succeeds is SOA still dead? What if it succeeds and fails?

One could stretch and say that that this is an example of being wiped out by the catastrophic impact of the economic recession. However I don't think Anne had this case in mind when she wrote this. I'm sure there were a lot of casualties of that merger, and I don't think the demise of the project had anything to do with whether it was SOA.

Joe McKendrick brought it up again in his 09 predictions saying that SOA will be de-emphasized by cloud computing. Nick Gall of Gartner Group used this as a way of promoting his pet peeve WOA with Long Live the Web, and as a bit of tongue-in-cheek retort, Steve Jones of CapGemini quickly proclaimed REST is dead long live the Web

I have been thinking hard over the past year or more to come up with new models for how service-orientation, grid computing, cloud computing, and SAAS all come together in a coherent architecture, but I have always thought we would just call it SOA.
So here's my problem with all this noise .... I'm still looking for where's the death!?? I'm not against joining the new bandwagon, but I'm still looking for a good reason to declare an acronym dead while still declaring everything that it stands for to be critical for future success.
Not a one has bothered to substantiate any of the claims that are made about SOA being unsuccessful. The consensus is that all the elements of SOA such as service-orientation, governance, alignment with the business, etc are still critical to live on, and be joined with things like cloud computing and SAAS yet the term itself needs to die because IT has to stop selling that term to the business. In favor of what? Another term? I'm all ears. In fact I would like to issue a challenge to the industry of those are in the thick of it to suggest a new term.

Just to let folks be aware that SOA, the architecture-formerly-known-as-SOA, and the architecture-until-recently-known-as-SOA is alive-and-well, I gathered up some success stories that show tangible ROI from recent SOA projects across the industry, which include some Oracle customers. If IT needs some ammunition to help sell SOA to the business, there's some that I documented right here


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5 Comments

It is absolutely amazing how short-sighted some people can be, because just as nothing goes up forever, nothing goes down forever. We are at a turning point where we can give up and crawl off somewhere to die or use our skills so that when things turn around we can be ready to seize the next opportunity. Development is like science fiction where death is at most, a minor incovenance.

Totally agree with you Dave
Agreed that every technology has its life span but it'd be too early to call the SOA of all things dead as a dodo ;)

Nice article Dave.
SOA in the hands of programmers will die since they are interesting in delivery and not architecting.
SOA in the hands of PM or programmer/manager will die since they see too much time being spent on documentation and discussion and less time in 'getting it out the door'.
SOA needs a good salesman in the company and an accountant to support him/her for the external facing audience. SOA needs an evangelist for the internal facing programmers.

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