Service-oriented architecture is being sold as a sort of Superman for the modern enterprise, with the ability to leap legacy applications in a single bound. Saving money, streamlining processes and simplifying development are just a few of the better-known claims associated with SOA.
As with any emerging technology, it's too early to tell just how many of these claims will actually prove to be true. But there are some promising early results -- some in areas that perhaps not even SOA proponents could have predicted.
For example, several early deployers report that SOA can serve as a bridge over the still-troubled waters of IT/business alignment.
The CIO of Verizon Communications says SOA has helped warm relations between his company's business users and the developers tasked with creating applications for them, largely by freeing the developers from coding and other low-level tasks. With more time on their hands, the developers are spending at least some of it soliciting users for input on the features and functionalities that will help them do their jobs better.
We hope we'll see more of this improved collaboration between the business and IT if SOA proves to be as big as many folks are predicting. Some observers say that it will be part of 80 percent of new development projects by 2008.