In our family we often talk about straight lines in the context of getting to an outcome. So, when you are looking at a teenager, it is natural to hope that he or she becomes a responsible citizen with a good job and a nice family. But it doesn’t happen over night. In some cases the kid does exactly what you expect and the results are easy to predict. But, in most cases, your kid takes two steps forward and one step back – and might even go sideways for a period of time. Eventually, things have a way of working out. This is the way I am looking at SOA – it isn’t going to happen in a straight line. Organizations are going to zig and zag. They are going to take a few positive steps and do great things and they are going to fumble and have problems. But, in the end, I do believe that most companies will get there.
I get frustrated with the implication that there is a straight line to implementing SOA. It is not straight at all. First, there are still many pieces that will have to be developed before organizations are ready for wide adoption of SOA on an enterprise basis. For example, there needs to be a mechanism to manage the SOA components from a performance, security, and quality perspective. There has to be what we at Hurwitz & Associates are calling the SOA Supervisor. It’s a necessary software component, a control mechanism that allows organizations to cleanly join and loosely couple services together and have them act as a virtual system. That does not exist today, except when a company hires an experienced team to do the work. Even then I think it would take years. to arrive at a full solution.
But as we wait, I think that you will see SOA move to a line-of-business focus. This is the only way in the short term that organizations will be able to successfully implement SOA in a scalable manner. This has already started to happen and will pick up speed this year. I am expecting that the major vendors will start delivering SOA stacks that are customized for specific industry sectors. Some of these sectors will be broad, such as insurance while others may be very specific to a submarket – paper process manufacturing, for example. So, is this a packaged software or SOA infrastructure? The answer is yes.