What SOA and Abe Vigoda Have in Common

Loraine Lawson

SOA is a lot like Abe Vigoda. A lot of people think both are dead, but they're actually still alive and kicking.


Although, realistically, service-oriented architecture probably has a lot more life left than Vigoda. In fact, Forrester says it's thriving. SOA expert and ZDNet blogger Joe McKendrick recently reported that a recent survey by the research firm showed that seven out of 10 enterprises are working on SOA or plan to pursue it. Further, 77 percent of this group said they were satisfied with their SOA efforts, and 31 percent said it had delivered most or all of the expected benefits.


If you haven't heard about SOA recently, blame it on the hype cycle. Some people say the hype cycle is itself hype, but I actually think it's a great way to explain the marketing cycle that technology and trends go through. SOA has just played out that infamous hype cycle and settled into what Gartner calls the "plateau of productivity." I prefer to think of it as "the Oklahoma plains of resigned adoption," a kind of boring, flat place where even the laggards have to admit a "new-ish" technology (or architecture, in this case) has a place and everybody quietly moves to adopt it without a lot of hoopla.


In particular, SOA seems to have found a home in the utilities, telecom, finance and insurance sectors, which Forrester says are leaders in SOA adoption.


Though the public sector is one of the areas where adoption lags, it's worth noting that the various military branches are among those with the best SOA success stories. Most recently, Federal Computer Week covered the Coast Guard's SOA project, Semper Paratus Enterprise Architecture Realization-or, rather cleverly, SPEAR for short. SPEAR is expected to save millions of dollars. In the article, Capt. Mike Ryan shares how SPEAR helped the Coast Guard quickly share information during the Deepwater Horizon-aka the BP oil spill.


The Navy has also invested in SOA, along with the Department of Defense and, more recently, the Air Force.


So, that's the status on SOA: It hasn't gone away; it's just gone mainstream. For an up-to-date status on Vigoda, you should check www.abevigoda.com. Last time I checked, he was doing well, too.


That reminds me: You know what's not doing so well? ESBs. Enterprises just aren't as interested in enterprise service buses, which were once considered a cornerstone for deploying SOA, according to McKendrick's post. Forrester's research team hypothesized that SOA appliances may be usurping ESBs.

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