Do You Understand SOA? Expert Says No

Loraine Lawson

Do you understand what SOA means? I mean, really understand it?


Probably not, according to this punchy little piece on InfoWorld.


Don't worry. You're not alone, according to Roberto Medrano, the executive VP of SOA Software, who tells InfoWorld:

"Maybe 20 percent of IT folks understand SOA and half of the rest think they do."


The way the article's written, it's a bit difficult to tell whether the remainder of the piece is from Medrano or from InfoWorld contributing editor Galen Gruman. I'm guessing it's actually information culled from InfoWorld's Special Report on SOA, which is dated today, but actually first appeared on Monday.

(Do check out the series - it covers the full spectrum of SOA, from selling SOA to the business to testing your services. Although, I will say it's broken into annoyingly small, hyperlinked chunks.)

So. Where does that leave the remaining IT people? Confused. According to this piece, the misinformed majority think SOA means:

  • Integration. Wrong. Integration is incidental to SOA's real purpose -- mapping business functions. "Integration is a bridge; SOA is a whole new landscape." Got it? Good.
  • Reusuing code. Wrong, again. The article clarifies by saying it's not about reusing but sharing code. Duh.

Perhaps it is time to widen SOA's definition.


Gruman and Medrano apparently aren't the only ones who feel IT just doesn't understand SOA. ZDNet columnist Joe McKendrick points out in his blog this week that there's wide agreement that someone is definitely derailing -- the question is, who? Business or IT? He points to a May article by ZapThink's Ron Schmelzer, in which Schmelzer contends IT doesn't understand SOA and may be sabotaging it. Schmelzer's premise seems to be that IT dismisses SOA as a technology and, specifically, a rehash of Web services and middleware.


But it's a bit pessimistic -- not to mention snotty -- to say people don't know what SOA is just because they connect it to integration or code reuse or any number of items that, really, will result from SOA. And if IT really is aligning against SOA, then why do techies spend so much time discussing and reading about it?


As I've mentioned before, I suspect it may be less a matter of IT 'ganging up on' SOA than being too jaded to jump on any bandwagon that promises to fix all IT and business woes.

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