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May 22, 2009


Pierre Fricke

I think we are reading the normal shock of the initial wave of a depression gives to business spending as "SOA is dead". What could have been an 1890s-type depression (fairly quick - 3 years) will likely turn into something like 1990s Japan at least in the USA and possibly parts of the EU due to massive government intervention (same as Japan).

Spending hits a wall as credit dries up and money velocity slows dramatically. This is deflation - e.g., the destruction of money and the reduction of velocity. This puts most projects on hold as organizations hoard money (which is a natural thing to do in a deflation).

SOA is a significant undertaking that would be impacted by this initial wave. Now as companies dust themselves off after the first round, they find they still need to conduct business and need to become more competitive than ever. So, we see at least some of the projects break loose and get funded (those that are well justified).

It is interesting to see that the financial services industry is loosening up a bit on focused SOA and BPM/BRMS projects...well now with the mergers going on and the rules and regulations of business changing rapidly, they better get their IT agile.

I think we are confusing poorly justified or thought out SOA projects that don't get funded as organizations won't implement SOA or SOA is dead. I wonder what will happen to the companies that can't justify SOA compared to those that figure SOA out.

The next wave of deflation is coming. 10-15 million residential foreclosures are in the pipeline over the next few years along with untold commercial real estate defaults coming. This will accelerate and deepen the government response, the "New, New Deal". This is already underway and a new business and regulatory environment is emerging that will require the benefits of SOA and BPM/BRMS to gain advantage and the ability to deal with ongoing change of the type we've not seen in a long time. I've seen some companies that recognize we are in a new era of change - change of the type not driven by technical innovation but driven by financial and government regulation turmoil and will use technical innovation to respond.

Wanna argue about deflation? Wanna buy a house? car? rare art? oil leases? at 2006-07 prices? :-)

Of course, the govt may succeed in trumping deflation with inflation...and we'll enter something not seen in the US financial markets since 1863-65.

Anne Thomas Manes

Pierre: You are spot on. The recession is causing organizations to cut spending, and anything that can't demonstrate rapid ROI is getting cut -- including SOA projects. That was the point of my obituary. I never intended to say that organizations shouldn't do SOA (they MUST!), but SOA teams are hard pressed to get funding for their efforts unless they focus on delivering services that generate measurable business value.

Bob Graton


If SOA is not about technology or infrastructure, I was wondering why you are doing a direct correlation between the sales in the Application Integration Middleware market and the success in SOA initiatives?

I work for a bank and we are currently in the process of buying some Application Integration Middleware. We need these tools and technology to move forward and build projects. How we are going to use this technology (via good SOA or bad SOA) will determine success or failure of our SOA initiative.

Anne Thomas Manes

Bob: I did not intend to draw a correlation between AIM sales and SOA success. I am drawing a direct correlation between AIM sales and SOA funding. My core thesis is that, in many organizations, business people have come to the conclusion that SOA is expensive and doesn't deliver; therefore, they have cut funding for their SOA initiatives. Business people have drawn this conclusion because IT people have been ineffective at demonstrating any quantifiable benefits from their SOA efforts to date. In some cases, that's because their SOA efforts have not returned positive value. In other cases, it's because they don't know how to measure success. In either case, SOA has become a bad word. So I reiterate: If you want to get funding this year for your SOA initiative, you should probably avoid using the word "SOA" and instead focus your efforts on building "services" that deliver measurable value to the business.

I also suggest that you reassess your need for more AIM. I suspect you already have everything you need to implement services. You typically don't need to buy additional software to do SOA. If you are a Burton Group client (many banks are), you have access to our Reference Architecture, which describes the infrastructure model you need to support service-oriented computing. We'd be happy to advise you in your design.

Harald Nehring

Let's face it - SOA as an architectural principle was invented by the same folks in IT organizations (and then amplified by the folks consulting/selling to them) who gave us CORBA, OO, SAA, DCE, UDM, etc. In all of these cycles, the same folks have hit a wall early on because business folks didn't care about the latest infrastructure wizardry, as they look for cost-effective solutions to business problems, whatever infrastructure they're based on. This in turn then fuels a whole "ROI", "TCO" and "business case" industry with the only purpose of magically creating a causal link between a new infrastructure capability and raging business success.

Good business outcome is less linked to one specific technology infrastructure than we want to believe. Otherwise people would not be able to run efficient operations on such diverse architectures as Microsoft and salesforce.com, for example. Yes, as a technologist you have to believe that it's the architecture that makes all the difference, but what really counts is deep business insight, pragmatic application of available technology and quick results. Which is hard to achieve if you first have to "get them all onto the new stack".

Bottom line - if we wouldn't have tried selling SOA as snake oil, but just as the good architectural practice it is, we wouldn't have this "dead or alive" discussion.


My long answer to death of SOA.


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