Web Services Can Be SOA 'On-Ramp' for SMBs


If there is one thing IT analysts can't agree upon, it's how many businesses are using service-oriented architecture.


A Freeform Dynamics analyst said earlier this year that some 50 percent of large enterprises are experimenting with SOA or planning on doing so soon. Yet in late 2006, 55 percent of technical and business folks surveyed by Quocirca reported they had little if any knowledge of SOA.


Perhaps most striking, Evans Data Corp. reported practically identical adoption rates (25 percent) for SOA in separate surveys from July of last year and in a more recent one being touted by IBM. It seems odd to us that the SOA adoption rate grew 85 percent from 2005 to 2006, as Evans reported then, but remained virtually flat from 2006 to 2007 -- especially considering the bullish outlook that Evans offered for both years.


What apparently most interests IBM in the latest Evans survey, however, involves small business adoption of SOA. Evans predicts that, by 2009, more than half of SMBs (the definition used by Evans unfortunately isn't clarified here) will have functioning SOAs.


Three things are holding back SOA adoption among SMBs, says IBM: a misconception that SOA is only for big business; concern over costs associated with building an SOA; and the mistaken idea that an SOA is simply a collection of integrated Web services. (It's worth noting that bigger companies share many of the same cost and complexity concerns.)


IBM mentions that several of its SMB customers, including RouteOne, RailInc. and AAA Carolinas, are successfully using Web services, which many folks see as the first step toward a full-fledged SOA. (Of course, plenty of experts, including ZDNet blogger Joe McCendrick, disagree.)


IBM's Sandy Carter notes that Web services can serve as an "excellent on-ramp for SOA" for SMBs that are interested in SOA but are "intimidated by its scope."