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What Metrics Can You Use for SOA?

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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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