SOA Demonstrates Broad Momentum

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Editorial Director and current Faculty Member,
Tom Dwyer is the Editorial Director and current Faculty Member of He writes, presents and consults on topics that include Business Process Management, Business-to-Business, Enterprise Application Integration, and Service-Oriented Architecture. Mr. Dwyer has conducted primary research and published extensive reports on the Application Software Infrastructure markets. Before becoming an industry analyst in 1998, Mr. Dwyer spent 28 years in the computer industry in various engineering, marketing, professional services, and sales functions. He was a co-founder and general manager of a new software venture at Xerox, which became a wholly owned subsidiary. Mr. Dwyer has held senior management positions in marketing and engineering at Wang Laboratories and Prime Computer and has developed and launched more than 15 software products.


Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is gaining broad momentum throughout business applications that support all aspects of business operations, according to The Yankee Group 2005 U.S. Enterprise SOA Survey (see Figure 1). The survey of 306 IT executives representing a wide array of industries, including financial services, telecommunications, health service and government, revealed that SOA use is moving toward widespread implementation in only a matter of a few years in the U.S., regardless of vertical industry. SOA project completion in 2006 will accelerate and energize a rising tide of adoption of SOA across a diverse set of markets in a variety of business operations. This result illustrates that the respondents understand what is required to successfully leverage SOA. They recognize how important it is to understand this new paradigm and be prepared to change the way applications are architected.

Relevant Business Processes

When asked which types of business processes were most relevant for SOA, decision-makers reported they were focused on a swift ramp-up across the enterprise. Respondents identified customer-facing processes involving Web sites/portals as the most important followed by help-desk and customer support operations. Respondents identified improving better communication between different available services in the sales or customer service functions as most important because it directly affects the company’s revenue. They identified that using SOA to build exposed services can drive and offer unique or distinctive features, or a distinct image other companies do not have. Respondents also indicated that integration of business applications and improving access to business data and content were high priorities. Respondents reported that development of internal applications/reporting has been unified and leveraged across the enterprise – a recognized benefit of an SOA approach to integration. Interestingly, looking to next year, data content aggregation and accessibility, and business application integration are currently under evaluation or in the process of deployment. This result could indicate that SOA is ready to move beyond its customer-facing beachhead into more generalized use.

Business Architecture Challenges

Early adopters have begun to articulate the next issue facing them as they expand their use of SOA. A primary challenge is the need to define, design and specify a library of related enterprise services required to support the needs of the entire business. This big picture definition cannot proceed in a bottom-up fashion as prior SOA projects have.

Consequently, SOA requires IT organizations to change many aspects of their business: how they are organized, how they build and manage applications, the technologies they use and the products they purchase. How to leverage these is very critical during the whole SOA adoption process. During the first year of SOA adoption these questions may not have answers as companies approach SOA tactically without an overall architectural strategy.

However, as the definition of services expands, it becomes apparent that additional services should not be defined in isolation. Taking that approach increases the risk of building services that are brittle, redundant and not reusable. Instead, an SOA roadmap should be defined that creates a blueprint for investment and implementation spanning multiple years. Part of this roadmap is the specification of a complete library of enterprise services that support not only the entire enterprise operations but collaboration with the company’s value chain. It is this effort that maximizes the ‘A’ in SOA.

Enterprise Recommendations

  • Establish an Integration Competency Center (ICC). The ICC is both a services governance organization and a center of excellence for SOA adoption. It should provide architectural consulting services for each SOA project team.
  • Create a comprehensive inventory of current applications, their existing integration points and shortcomings. For each application, put in place a strategy for service-enabling the application or replacing it with a collection of services. For each integration point a strategy should be developed for moving the integration to a services based approach.
  • Build a Canonical Data Model. Adopting a common set of interrelated data structures for all the business services within the company is mandatory to realize the full benefits of SOA adoption. The canonical data model should define the business domain of the company and be understood by the CEO.
  • Communicate the SOA blueprint to your partners and technology suppliers. Work with your technology suppliers to ensure they are building versions of their products that implement service-oriented interfaces and that future versions will be able to consume services provided by other applications. Coordinate with other partners in your value chain to synchronize your SOA efforts with theirs.

Vendor Recommendations

  • Educate your marketplace about SOA and the importance of a top-down architectural approach. Recognize that most companies will begin their investment in SOA from a bottom-up approach and they will need assistance to transform this early approach to one that is driven by an enterprise architecture.
  • Support emerging industry standards. Standards such as Web services (WS-*), XML, and BPEL are critical to enabling SOA to be rapidly adopted throughout an industry value chain. Support for these standards is a mandatory requirement for suppliers. Take an active role in promoting the requirement to define domain-specific enterprise services. Companies need to be educated about the importance of this task and be given guidance on how to accomplish it.

Clearly, the SOA train is starting to leave the station. It is time to get onboard.

Survey Methodology

Yankee Group used a Web-based survey to capture responses from 306 U.S. IT executives representing industries from financial services, government, telecommunications (wireline), telecommunications (wireless), retail, manufacturing, transportationl/logistics, medical/health services, travel/entertainment, and energy/utilities. The size of companies surveyed ranged from 250 employees to 5,000- plus employees. Eighty-six percent of the respondents had sole or joint decision-making responsibility for selection of SOA products and services. Forty-one percent of the respondents already have SOA partially deployed, while 43 percent plan to begin deploying SOA in the next 12 months, and the remaining 16 percent plan to begin deploying SOA in the next 24 months.

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