IS SOA Dead?

Anne Thomas Manes, a well respected SOA analyst from Burton Group ( talks about SOA (as originally envisioned – to reduce costs, increase business agility, compose solutions from existing services, blah blah blah...) being dead and I am only too happy to agree with the observation! SOA will see marginal success in IT optimization in traditional enterprise and will see huge success in cloud computing.

For the past 5 years I have seen so many companies trying to achieve the nebulous goals set by SOA programs and ending up with some kind of green-yellowish goo that could not be washed off their hands easily. Majority of the Enterprise Architecture programs that have been running with SOA are in the danger of shutting down their EA programs taking down SOA with them in the process. Most SOA programs are seen by the business units as an IT optimization (which it really is) with no established proof points for business capability optimization. This chasm is only made wider by the organizational politics.

There are two connotations to SOA: SOA-B (business enablement) and SOA-R (new Revenue streams through SOA enabled business models). If you want to see the differences between these two read the blog post: SOA-B that supports IT optimization has seen sporadic success in cracking open the data silos. It never was and will be successful in canonicalization and normalization of business processes that span multiple political boundaries within the organization. SOA has seen sporadic success in replacing EDI VAN networks for partner integration. SOA is too good to be true!

However there are cases where SOA directly creates/supports revenue streams (e.g. Amazon web services, Google Apps, Microsoft Azure services platform, companies like Reuters and Infospace that syndicate content ) without which the business cannot exist. In this case it is very easy for IT to show the business value signaling the tight business alignment through quantitative ROI indicators. There will be nothing but success for SOA in these scenarios. SOA-R is the key success factor for delivering solutions in Cloud computing. Please see SaaS (or our own S+S) and SOA relationship at . If a company’s main business enabler is reaching out the Longtail (See Chris Anderson’s article on this subject in Wired magazine which is the case with Cloud services providers, SOA will see a huge success there.

Regards and happy New Year,


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