I was busily working away when I got a call from a hedge fund manager. Now, I don’t really know that many hedge fund managers so I thought this could be a good education. This fund manager — no I don’t remember his name — had a request. Could I spend an hour or at least 5 minutes (yes, that is exactly what he said) with him explaining the key trends in a SOA. Now, while I appreciated his thirst for knowledge, I have to admit I was perplexed. What exactly was he up to? I won’t keep you in suspense any more. Simply put, he wanted to know if SOA was passé. He was reading various blogs and articles that implied that SOA was fine while it lasted but it was basically over. Companies gave it the old college try but found it didn’t work and moved on.
Here is what I told my new friend. Clearly there are people who are proclaiming SOA dead. It is easier to get headlines that way. After all, who wants to write an article and say, it’s moving ahead slowly but surely — not a good headline. My perception is that from the many customers I have spoken with and continue to speak with, SOA is a continuing process. It is not a quick fix. It isn’t like building a single application. It is, as I have said many times, a business strategy and a different approach to building business services. It is not necessarily so easy because the IT group can’t go off and do it alone. The old style programmer who liked to sit in a quiet place and write code doesn’t do well with SOA. The new style developer is a business collaborator. That individual must partner with colleagues in the business units to determine what services and what business processes can be abstracted so that they can be used and repurposed to support business change. That is very different than other technology trends I have witnessed over my years in the business.
No not to belabor the point — SOA is not a fad. It is a business approach to software that is still in its first stage of development. There is a lot more work to be done in terms of products, services, and techniques. So, Mr. Hedge Fund Manager, SOA ain’t dead yet!