SOA Makes a Comeback, Just in Time for Spring


Has SOA transcended its own death and reached a state of enlightenment?


Yessir. It has, at least according to a recent Gartner pronouncement.


It's the perfect rites-of-spring story, really. You may recall the Burton Group declared SOA officially dead in the thick of winter. But just four months later, a different analyst firm-Gartner-says SOA is climbing out of the negative "trough of disillusionment" into the "slope of enlightenment" on the hype cycle.


Translated out of the original analyst-ese, that means mainstream companies and agencies are adopting SOA and even finding it useful.


Didn't I tell you SOA was only dead as Elvis?


Even as Gartner noted SOA becoming more mainstream, Jess Thompson, research vice president, noted many organizations are still "accidentally" adopting SOA:

Most packaged application vendors are re-engineering their products employing SOA to improve the flexibility and extensibility of the offerings, save money by eliminating duplicated functionality, and provide a more effective way of accessing the functionality of the products. Many companies' adoptions of SOA may be unplanned, the result of engaging in BPM or in SaaS, or deploying and using new packaged applications.


Of course, Gartner's pronouncement is really more of an interesting data point than real news. Even as she declared SOA dead, Anne Thomas Manes added she meant SOA was dead as a business initiative, but should still be useful as a IT practice.


Thompson is quoted in an ihotdesk article as saying more companies may be adopting SOA because it "underpins" other cost-cutting IT initiatives.


Gartner also predicted inadequate or non-existent SOA governance will be the most common reason for SOA failures through next year. It seems like a no-brainer statement, but, as ZDNet SOA blogger Joe McKendrick recently pointed out, there's some leeway in when you actually introduce SOA governance:


... there often seems to be a "tipping point" that needs to be reached before full-fledged governance is needed. Various surveys I have been involved with have consistently found that governance efforts tend to kick in when companies reach a critical mass of services. The issue is whether companies can't see the value in nascent service deployments, and are waiting to see how things go before investing staff time and resources to move to the next level, the governance level.


Thompson also sees strong project management as critical to SOA's success, according to the ihotdesk piece, which quotes Thompson as saying companies need a "central entity that ensures tight coordination throughout the project."