Starting an SOA Initiative or Continuing the Journey?
It’s all in the approach
By: Kadeer Beg
Jan. 5, 2009 06:45 AM
It seems as if every few years we're inspired to learn about the next big thing in IT. Of course, it usually begins with some three letter acronym ("TLA"), is punctuated by the promise of significant ROI and ends with an eyebrow raising price tag. So why should SOA be anything different?
Over the years SOA went from being an industry buzzword to becoming a must-have strategy with proven and perceived benefits. However, like many technology paradigms, it has met with its fair share of failed attempts. While successful companies recognize that SOA is a journey, others should realize that there is no sense in abandoning a service-oriented initiative based on a failed attempt because SOA's returns to the organization can be significant.
What is worth evaluating is the initial approach to SOA that either resulted in success or perhaps didn't deliver on what IT may have promised.
Reasons Why SOA Fails
First and foremost, you have to define "success" and define "failure." Although this sounds obvious, many organizations do not establish these quantitative and qualitative metrics and, therefore, the end result of success versus failure becomes a very gray area. Always ask and document your overall business and technical goals, and your critical success factors.
Next it is important to treat an SOA project as one that is strategic, rather than tactical. Don't just focus your efforts on solving one short-term problem. It is important to create a long-term plan and vision, but with an approach that is phased and manageable. Whether you are looking to re-engineer your existing business processes or integrate your assets, only by having established a plan will you be able to reap true value from your SOA initiative.
Now with a long-term, strategic plan automatically comes a need for establishing executive support, aligning business and IT, and defining a governance strategy to maintain quality and efficiency. These should help keep the project in check.
Finally establish your overall approach. You need to balance an understanding of your current architecture - its redundancies, its bad code, its history, its function - with a set of future objectives to determine the right strategy for your company. Should it be one that integrates assets into a hub to share its services, or should it be one that re-engineers all or aspects of old applications to extract more value out of them, or should it be a combination of both over a long-term plan? With a commitment to SOA comes an understanding of the importance of refining and realigning the infrastructure.
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