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SOA 2007: Adoption steady, but tech squabbles exist

What is encouraging about SOA in 2007 and what is discouraging? At the half way point in the year, we ask trend watchers what they are seeing.

What kind of a year is this for service-oriented architecture (SOA)? With 2007 half over, we asked SOA trend watchers what they are seeing that is encouraging and/or discouraging. Here is how they see the state of SOA.

The headlines don't reflect reality that SOA is quietly moving into the IT mainstream.
Tony Baer
Some good questions and bad solutions
Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst, ZapThink LLC

Encouraging: Enterprises are asking the right questions -- questions about governance, loose coupling and agility.

Discouraging: Some vendors are still pushing integration software as the key to SOA, when in fact, more integration software is often the last thing enterprises need to be successful with SOA.

Too much Web 2.0
Bradley F. Shimmin, principal analyst of application infrastructure at Current Analysis LLC

Discouraging: What I found most discouraging within the SOA marketplace during the first six months of this year stemmed not from a lack of activity, but perhaps too much activity surrounding Web 2.0 technologies -- blogs, wikis, folksonomies and the like. The flurry of software releases and roadmap alterations made by mainstream SOA vendors, not to mention the "top-of-mind" discussion within the press and analyst communities so far, have not yielded or even heralded any truly revolutionary overhaul of the SOA marketplace. The notion of a collaborative-based human workflow is certainly correct and something we should strive for, but bolting a wiki onto your order-to-cash WSDL process won't solve the very real collaborative problems that stem from people-based processes, such as exception handling. That takes more than a blog post to resolve.

SOA in the IT mainstream, but SOA and BPM are far apart
Tony Baer, principal, onStrategies

Encouraging: Just as bad news tends to grab the headlines and good news is relegated to the back page, the headlines don't reflect reality that SOA is quietly moving into the IT mainstream.

Discouraging: The most disappointing trend is that with the recent announcement of BPEL4People, SOA and BPM purists appear just as far apart as ever.

More success stories, less REST vs. SOAP
Eric Newcomer, CTO, IONA Technologies Inc.

Encouraging: I'd have to say the most encouraging trend in SOA is that we are seeing real success stories out there. People really seem to be gaining the promised benefits of SOA, at least in most of the projects, and the industry has started to move past the hype stage to the point where customers know better what kinds of solutions they need. One of the best things that's starting to happen is that customers are understanding SOA better and understanding their requirements, and evaluating technology in terms of how it best meets them.

Discouraging One of the most discouraging things to me is the continued " REST vs SOAP" war in which people try to position these as mutually exclusive, or alternate choices. In fact I see these as complementary and co-existing, but people continue to argue about these things in the abstract, as if one technology is inherently better than another. It all depends on what you're trying to achieve – what the requirements are.

I do think it's finally sunk in that SOA is not a technology, it's an approach to IT, but this makes the technology based arguments all the more disappointing. It's as if us technology-minded folks can't really accept this even as we have continued to stress this separation (apparently successfully) to customers.

People are paying attention
Miko Matsumura, vice president of SOA products webMethods/Software AG

Encouraging: I have an anecdotal encouraging trend--very anecdotal. I have a metric for SOA adoption which is correlated with the angle of peoples seating in my SOA talks. This year at my SOA Executive Forum talk, people were leaning forward to take notes, ask questions and pay close attention. In years past, people were leaning back in their chairs and probably even taking naps!

For more information
SOA after the hype

Check out our SOA Learning Guide
Better investment vs. CIO resistence
Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst, ZapThink LLC

Encouraging: Companies are starting to invest more in architecture: methodology, people, organizational change, and design. There's more emphasis now on governance, quality and management.

Discouraging: Many end-users are being misled with regards to proper SOA adoption - focusing them more on implementing new infrastructure and not as much on building well-architected services. Many CIOs still don't get the reason for SOA and are stubbornly resisting SOA adoption.

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