Despite Being Recently Deceased, Can SOA Save the Economy?

Loraine Lawson

Last fall, pundits questioned whether the recession would have a positive or negative impact on SOA.


This January, SOA was pronounced dead by the Burton Group. They even held a wake.


Now, pundits are pontificating whether SOA can save the economy.


You gotta love this industry.


I'm not 100 percent but, like Monk, I'm 95 percent positive Joe McKendrick started this line of thinking, with his "Shovel-ready SOA" post, in which he wrote:

"Perhaps we should look at service orienting as a shovel-ready 'stimulus' program for corporate growth. Because it works both ways - the current rough-and-tumble economy may be good for SOA, and SOA may be good for the economy."


He actually made a pretty convincing argument that SOA had a lot to offer businesses right now. Of particular interest to integration fans was his argument that by simplifying integration, SOA can help businesses collaborate and more effectively handle reorganizations or mergers.


Possibly it's a coincidence -- or possibly it's because McKendrick also works with ebizQ-but shortly after, ebizQ's managing editor Peter Schooff started a discussion on this very topic, asking forum participates "How Can SOA Save the Day?" It's worth a quick read, although there are no surprises here. You'll at least recognize a lot of the names who posted, including ZDNet's Phil Wainewright, Miko Matsumara, the vice president and deputy CTO for Software AG, and Ross Mason, CTO and Co-Founder of MuleSource.


Michael Poulin, a UK-based enterprise solutions architect and active participant on the Yahoo SOA newsgroup, also participated in the discussion, which apparently inspired him because this week, Poulin added to the discussion with a guest article on ebizQ, in which he interviews himself. It's a fun approach -- very Socratic. He makes a long case for how a service-oriented (SO) approach can help businesses during tough times, and, as long as businesses don't overreact by being too draconian with cuts, he doesn't believe SOA will be impacted by the economy.


Poulin has a strong opinion about SOA not being used for integration, so, unlike McKendrick, he did not site that as an advantage to SOA, instead noting:

"The strength of SO is not in an integration of legacy systems somewhere inside IT, but in the ability of services to independently change its collaborating partners, resources, compositions and creating new collaborations to address new changes. SO is the methodology that can direct business toward organizational and operational efficiency under the pressure of constantly changing requirements."


Meanwhile, while Poulin and McKendrick are addressing how SOA can help businesses, there are still those trying to save SOA, as demonstrated by this recent eWeek article on "Recession-proofing SOA."


As I said, you gotta love this industry. But you know what other industry I love? Pharmaceuticals. Can somebody please pass me an aspirin?

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Feb 11, 2009 9:29 AM Jean-Jacques Dubray Jean-Jacques Dubray  says:

you said it well:

>> You gotta love this industry.

no further comments.

Feb 11, 2009 5:27 PM Don Griffing Don Griffing  says:

I read Anne Thomas Manes' pronouncement the death of SOA.  It was pronouncing the death of the TLA (three letter acronym) and not the underlying concepts.  She is correct that the current economy has killed SOA as product suite.  One reason for this death is that we let marketing poach our term.  I raised this concern in May 2007 with Salesforce.com Introduces SOA as a SAAS, http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/mia/?p=136.

The other reason is that we got entrenched into our own technology wars.  As Anne stated in her pronouncement: "People forgot what SOA stands for. They were too wrapped up in silly technology debates , and they missed the important stuff: architecture and services."

While the TLA is dead, the core concepts are very much alive.  These belt-tighten times give organizations the time to focus on the architecture and services.  We must redouble our focus on the issues we are attempting to solve-reducing development costs and increasing business agility.  As we go forward, we need to embrace the commitments that organizations and IT must undertake to solve this issues.  IT must own up to the fact that slapping a new technology on top of old code does fix the underlying agility problems.  The organizations need to fully support the redesign of the critical systems.  As Ms. Manes points out, success requires "disruption to the status quo."  The organizations with the courage to address their architecture and services will emerge on the other side better equipped to compete in the new marketplace.


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