Service Oriented Architecture

Jim Zimmerman

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SOA helps in the integration of applications, enabling enterprises to share information even within disparate systems. This process of easy integration is of great consequence, especially in case or M&As between companies. Banks and insurance companies are increasingly adopting SOA in order to reduce integration costs and maintenance costs, as well as for the easy availability of information via the Web. As an architectural style, SOA brings about coherence in IT infrastructure at a low cost. With the help of SOA, businesses can move out of their monolithic structures and club together different applications which facilitates in delivering the required services. SOA also provides consumers a range of options to choose from; and they are not compelled to stick to the traditional concept of a single packaged software application from a particular vendor. However, analysts are of the view that integrating and synchronizing different applications purchased from different vendors in a single system could prove to be an enormous task.

SOA helps in reusability of applications, thereby empowering enterprises to keep pace in a highly-competitive environment. The compatibility of SOA and server virtualization is garnering a lot of attention from analysts. By breaking down different applications into smaller components so that they can be easily spread across multiple servers, SOA helps in server virtualization. The compatibility of SOA and server virtualization can, therefore, facilitate different processes in an enterprise as the former would be of help to the software and the latter to the hardware. We believe that virtualization 2.0 will further enable the accommodation of SOA into the enterprise. Some vendors like IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems are increasingly considering a synergy between SOA and server virtualization.

Presently, the adoption of SOA is limited to large enterprises, since SMBs lack the resources and expertise to adopt SOA. However, analysts opine that the scenario is all set to change within the next two to three years with a number of SMBs considering SOA adoption.

SOA seems to be a technology much in demand. Analysts point out that there are different ways in which SOA is being used by enterprises. While some are using SOA exclusively, others are retaining some of their previous applications and integrating them with newly deployed SOAs. The highest growth of the SOA market is presently in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to analysts, business users do not have a clear understanding of SOA. Therefore, SOA vendors should inform users of the technology's salient features and recommend the correct SOA platform based on users' nature of business. Moreover, analysts point to the fact that the possibility of an economic slowdown in the US may have an adverse affect on the SOA market, whereby enterprises using SOA will be compelled to minimize budgets. Consequently, analysts advise business users to proceed gradually so as to avoid a large upfront investment. Another challenge that is being faced by business users is with regard to the manner in which they should invest in SOA so as to get maximum ROI. To achieve this end, effective SOA governance needs to be in place.

We believe that although SOA is making its presence felt within enterprises, it is still at the experimentation or early implementation stage, and will take time to reach the stage of widespread adoption across enterprises of all sizes. Further, we hold that imparting training on SOA is imperative so as to help both vendors and consumers understand SOA technology better.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an architectural style that helps enterprises in integrating business processes so as to make information accessible over a network. The main attraction behind the adoption of SOA is the low-cost infrastructure that it provides, enabling enterprises to keep pace in a highly-competitive and technologically-advanced environment. Some of the application areas of SOA include the banking and insurance sectors.

SOA implementation is gaining in strength in the Asia-Pacific region, and trends show that the short-term adoption of SOA lies in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, while the long-term potential will be greatest in China, India, and Japan.

IBM, Accenture, BearingPoint, Infosys, and Microsoft are some of the leading SOA vendors. Presently, SOA vendors mainly target large enterprises, but it is believed that this phenomenon will change in the next two to three years when there would be an increased penetration of SOA among SMBs.

However, the SOA market generally fails to deliver a substantial return on investment (ROI). Moreover, resource sharing, SOA governance, and upfront cost are some of the other hurdles in the adoption of SOA.

Our partners at Analysts Perspectives present an overview of analyst observations, predictions, and opinions about the ongoing and future trends in the SOA market.

Some key findings include the fact that worldwide SOA market is expected to reach USD 15.4 billion by 2013; the SOA market in Asia will grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40 percent to reach USD 2.2 billion by 2010; and SOA license markets are expected to become saturated by 2013 at USD 3.8 billion.

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