SOA in 2009? Bet on Small, Quick Projects


We're nearing the year end and the 2009 predictions are starting to pop up. Since no one in the IT industry is trying to be Sylvia Browne, Jeanne Dixon or the like, many tech industry "predictions" really would be more correctly categorized as strategy recommendations for the new year.


I recently asked SOA expert David Linthicum if he had any predictions or recommendations for SOA in 2009. He pointed out he'd already written up his predictions for 2009 in October, but he did add one recommendation that's not mentioned there.


"I think that in '09, SOA will continue to grow, but only around small 'quick win' tactical projects," he wrote.


He's not the only one who thinks the theme for service-oriented architecture in 2009 will be small and tactical projects. Joe McKendrick also issued his 2009 predictions, and, though the language is different, I think the meaning is the same:

There will be fewer big-bang SOA projects rolled across the whole enterprise, and many more incremental, bottom-up efforts - many of which may be under the radar. More guerrilla SOA, if you will. SOA will also make it easier for companies in mergers, acquisitions, or restructurings to reconstitute themselves.

McKendrick bases his prediction on the economic conditions, which he thinks will remain uncertain through the new year, though he adds he believes the economy will move into the recovery stage in 2009. He contends this is exactly the type of environment where SOA was forged and where the approach can really show its mettle:

...companies will continue to seek solutions that help streamline and cut costs. This is a natural role for SOA-based practices - remember, Web services and SOA were forged in the wake of the downturn of 2001 as a way to increase IT efficiency and value to the business with minimal additional investments.

Finally, Eric Roch, a chief technologist who writes the "The Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) Blog" at IT Toolbox, issued a top 10 list of SOA predictions for 2009 that included, "Big bang SOA software projects shut down in favor of incremental projects with well defined ROI."


So, for 2009, it seems the recommendations for those pursuing SOA is to seek out small, incremental, well-defined wins.


It strikes me as excellent advice, though I do wonder: How will pursuing smaller, tactical wins affect SOA's strategic relevance?


As Anne Thomas Manes recently wrote


Service oriented architecture is hard work. It's disruptive. It's a political minefield. It involves going through the application portfolio and identifying redundant applications that can be decommissioned and replaced by a single service. ... It's just good business sense to eliminate some of that redundancy. And by the way, the CFO is going to be looking to reduce the IT M&O budget this year. There is no better time to start an application rationalization effort.

Will small and tactical really get you to disruptive? I don't know. But it'll be fun to follow how it all plays out in the coming new year.