Why CIOs Should Tune into SOA

Loraine Lawson

CIOs seem to have turned off and dropped out when it comes to service-oriented architecture. Of course, this isn't exactly news -- heck, I joined others in writing about it last month - but the notion was largely anecdotal. No one had actual numbers to prove it until Software AG recently published findings from its study on SOA governance.


Joe McKendrick broke the news in a post late last week, leading with the significant finding that only 18 percent of companies that participated in the study reported that their CIO's office played a role in their SOA steering committee.


Sit with that a minute: That means more than four-fifths of SOA implementations were being conducted without the CIO's lead, at least among the 176 companies surveyed. Here we have an initiative that directly affects the IT architecture, development and deployment of applications, and could be plenty costly -- and tons of IT executives are just leaving it up to someone else.


Wow. Now that's trust. Or, seen in another light, negligence.


If you want to know why CIOs are opting out, go to page 15 of the full report, "Best Practices for SOA Governance User Survey," which you can download for free if you're willing to fill out a small form about yourself and your company.


I think it's more important, however, to look at why CIOs should reconsider their long-distance relationship with SOA implementations. And the best article I've found on that is this recent CIO Update piece, written by Julie Craig, a senior analyst with Enterprise Management Associates. If you haven't heard of EMA -- and I hadn't -- it's a Colorado-based research firm specializing in IT management.


The article focuses on how ITIL can be the foundation for SOA success, but along the way, she makes a great case for why CIOs should head SOA implementations. As Craig explained it, SOA requires companies to rise above departmental deployment strategies and to focus on cross-business goals and resources.


To do this, you're going to need an executive-level person who can see the big picture and rise above the petty squabbles. I think this quote best sums up her argument:

"Without the cross silo focus that ITIL and other best practices bring to an organization, evolving towards delivering business services, rather than simply delivering applications, may not be possible. IT sees the services they deliver as a combination of technologies. The business sees them as a form on a screen. Bridging the gap between these two views requires that a link be made somewhere. And since the role of engineers is to be engineers, the task of evolving IT to a broad focus on business service delivery lies with the executive."

Craig offers more reasons for CIOs should be key players in SOA implementations. Check her article out - particularly if you're one of those absent CIOs.

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