Original Post Date: Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A recent Gartner report indicates that industry enthusiasm for SOA is waning.  The reasons cited are the lack of enough people with the proper skill sets to perform SOA deployments and the lack of a good business case for SOA.  It’s an interesting but not really unexpected direction.  SOA has been surrounded by significant hype, ensuring that organizations surveyed would be anxious to profess their desire to start a SOA project.  But as the rubber hits the road, these organizations are realizing that SOA may not be the answer to all of their organizational woes.

Many will argue that SOA is nothing new – but rather a repackaging of an object oriented approach to software reuse.  They insist that the reason for this repackaging is motivated by a strong marketing push to sell a new generation of tools to folks that were not successful achieving reuse with earlier versions of tools.  Although I agree that the notion of SOA is not new, I do believe that technology has been advanced to a level where enough abstraction can be applied to the process to make reuse a possibility.  I do agree with the cynics that the heavy marketing push for SOA has not helped businesses make thoughtful decisions about whether it is right for them.

Now that enthusiasm has been tempered, organizations are starting to look at the costs, benefits and ROI of SOA.  This is a good thing.  A more thoughtful approach across the industry will balance the effects of aggressive marketing and ensure that the right SOA projects are attempted.  Of course, the challenge of determining ROI is daunting, particularly without a lot of data. Determining the benefits of a relatively untested paradigm is problematic.  If the SOA vendors are to be believed the benefits are tremendous.  Experience of course tells us that this is optimistic.  But common sense indicates that there is a great deal of potential for benefit for businesses that meet one or more of the criteria listed in the article “Your SOA needs a business case” – in other words if your business must respond to frequent changes in the marketplace or with business rules and relationships.

Understanding, or predicting, the benefits SOA will bring to the organization is only half the challenge.  The costs associated with a deployment of capabilities in a service based framework are also an important consideration.  The TruePlanning Suite, available from PRICE Systems, can help in this area.  TruePlanning allows for IT Project cost estimation that will help address costs associated with deploying the right infrastructure for SOA, the costs associated with development of services, and the costs associated with the composition of applications using services.