With the start of the New Year, it is typical to give a list of “wise predictions” for the months ahead. However, before I give you my predictions for 2007, I would like to add a disclaimer: No technology trend emerges out of thin air; trends evolve over decades before they become an “overnight” phenomenon. Take the example of service oriented architecture (SOA). SOA, which has started to become mainstream over the last few years, actually got its start in the 1980s with a variety of unsuccessful experiments from a variety of vendors. The advent of software as a service (SaaS) actually began in the 1990s with the emergence of the Application Service Provider (ASP)– you get the idea. So, with this caveat, here are my predictions about what will emerge and mature in the coming year.
- Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is real and will become mainstream in large enterprises in 2007. The movement to SOA is being driven by business leaders who recognize that creating business services will accelerate the ability to change and reuse applications in new ways when the business itself changes. Many organizations have established centers of excellence focused on SOA best practices.
- SOA will start to become a factor in the mid-market, despite the conventional wisdom that says SOA is only appropriate for large companies. During the coming year, vendors will begin to package SOA offerings that meet the needs of smaller companies. These companies do not have a large staff necessary to build SOA from scratch.
- A new generation of packaged applications will debut this year. Unlike the traditional packaged application, the new generation typically called “fabrics”, are designed as a set of best practice components (often designed for a specific line of business) that are linked together through SOA middleware. This new approach will be driven by existing packaged software providers as well as infrastructure vendors and systems integrators.
- Software virtualization will take off as a major focus in the market. Software virtualization will provide the ability to help customers leverage their software assets across a highly distributed, heterogeneous environment in a secure manner.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) will become a primary distribution capability for applications. SaaS infrastructure will be dominated by the major SOA vendors in the coming year. SaaS success will be predicated on scalability, reliability, and brand trust.
- Web 2.0 will emerge as the missing link in SOA. Web 2.0 will increasingly provide the client-side interactivity necessary for a rich customer experience. Enterprise Web 2.0 will be driven by sophisticated middleware innovation. Web 2.0 will become the next generation of portal technology.
- Quality and software testing, a longtime stepchild of the software market, will get hot. This will be especially true in the context of ensuring that business services perform the functions they are designed for in a predictable manner.
- Information as a Service will become an imperative for SOA implementations. While information and data have always been important, they have typically been viewed as separate departmental initiatives. Information as a service will start to provide organizations with the ability to leverage consistent assets across the company.
- Enterprise Community Software will become a strategic initiative in corporations. What started out as online communities for key topics or hobbies is emerging as a corporate strategy to create a tighter link to customers. Web 2.0 will help drive this reality.
- Management of highly distributed environments will grow in importance. There are many emerging companies that focus on segments of this technology. Large infrastructure players are likely to acquire some of them in order to provide a comprehensive set of offerings that reaches from the network through to the applications.
And one to grow on. Unified Communications joins the SOA community. Communications technologies are becoming key services within a SOA environment. Industry leaders such as Cisco, Microsoft, and Avaya in partnership with SOA leaders are leading this trend.