What Metrics Can You Use for SOA?

Loraine Lawson

SOA metrics aren't a hot topic, which seems odd to me, given how many companies are starting on the SOA road. Sure, there was Joe McKendrick's post about how the reduction in IT backlogs would be a useful metric for SOA success -- and David Linthicum's response post, arguing that while a reduced backlog is a great SOA payoff, it's something you'll see after the fact and not enough for a core metric with which to justify SOA.


A year ago, more was written about metrics, but maybe the metrics discussion was premature. Maybe it still is, given how many people are still trying to just figure out what SOA is and how you do it.


I'm guessing we'll soon see more on SOA metrics in the coming year as companies move farther along with SOA adoption and then encounter a new budget planning cycle. It's easy to find ROI for a small implementation, but metrics for an enterprise-wide implementation will be tricker.


Metrics were big on the menu during a networking breakfast yesterday at Gartner's Application Architecture, Development and Integration Summit, according to summit attendee and keynote panelist Todd Biske. Biske, an enterprise architect with an a Fortune 500 company in the St. Louis, notes on his blog that metrics came up time and time again as the breakfast panel discussed funding SOA.


Like Linthicum, he pointed out that agility is a key reason for moving to SOA. So, one measure is to compare the time it took to complete applications in the past with the time to completion under SOA.


But there are other metrics. For instance, he notes you can use metrics associated with service consumption, such as the number of service consumers, service usage by consumers, and the minimum, average and maximum response times. Biske says:

In my own experience, merely making these metrics available, and now at a finer level of granularity than the entry points into a web application were very beneficial. This visibility didn't exist before, so anything was better than nothing.

He also discusses the role of service ownership and service portfolio management play in SOA success. On a side-note, Biske also mentions one over-looked barrier to SOA success: IT's project-based culture.


In addition to writing about the SOA funding breakfast, Biske shares his notes from the opening presentations, which looked at where SOA falls on Gartner's hype cycle, as well as presentations on agility and SOA, assessing IT maturity, and a more general talk about application development he classified as "Information Architecture and BPM."

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Dec 5, 2007 3:20 PM Todd Biske Todd Biske  says:
Thanks for the shout-out Lorraine. I'm also attending the EA Summit that runs through Friday and will be continuing to blog from the event as interesting subjects arise. Reply
Dec 14, 2007 11:09 AM Dr. Jerry Smith Dr. Jerry Smith  says:
Interesting view, but I wonder if we are doomed as an advanced civilization when we have not learned to leverage the rich history and knowledge of our predecessors. No really, I am always amazed at our collective ability to overly complicate our lives by not leveraging the wisdom of the ancients. We constantly try to re-populate the software development knowledge pool every time a new technology appears on our societal door step. Measures and Metrics seem to be the latest example since the adoption of SOA as a computing paradigm by mainstream developers.If you dont believe me, go ahead and Google the subject SOA measures and see what you get. Go ahead, Ill wait. See what I mean, article after article on what are right measure to use in SOA development or Will SOA survive without real measures and metrics. These kinds of responses are indicative of a larger problem - one not related to SOA. We stopped being software engineers and programmers (technicians) and became SOA hacks. Very sad.Software engineering, as a practiced field of academic study and commercial operations, contains more information on measures and metrics than almost any other sub-discipline in computer science. ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) has over 1,000 journal and conference reports in this area, IEEE has about twice as much, and the Internet as a whole has countless articles on the subject. Measures and metrics are not new, even SOA-related ones, they are just not practiced as widely as they should be.Yes, I know there are those out there that say well, Dave Linthicum say current SOA metrics are invalid, or Hub Vandervoort says SOA metrics are on the rebound, but still are inadequate. Well, I agree. But the real observation is why is it that way? The answer isnt because SOA has some unique computer-based genome that is resistant to traditional measures; it is because we, as practitioners, has lost sight of the fact that SOA is nothing new and our predisposition to want to make believe that the important things we create must always be new and improved.Dr. Smith Reply

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