SOA is not something you buy, it is something you do. And research show us that few companies are doing it well.
A recent Burton Group analysis of SOA implementations found a 50 per cent failure rate among the 20 companies that it studied.
So what’s going on here? When Burton Group vice president and research director Anne Thomas Manes spoke about this issue at the consulting firm’s annual Catalyst conference in June, she said most SOA failures are due to people and process, not the technology. Manes drove the point home with her comment, “You’re going to have to create some kind of culture shift.”
As a veteran chief architect with more than 23 years of IT experience, I totally agree with her assessment. I have worked on an SOA initiative for more than two years and during that time I found that the biggest roadblocks were overcoming the enormous amount of change in the way people need to look at business processes and the way software development needs to be approached. The technology was the easy part.
So now we know who to blame for failed SOA initiatives. It’s the people, stupid! But just why do people make SOA fail? Let me count the ways. However, this is no blame game. By acknowledging the ways in which people can cause an SOA initiative to sputter, CIOs can take the opportunity to put a game plan together that addresses each issue and greatly improves an organisation’s chances of success.
1 Failure To Explain SOA’s Business Value
One of the most common mistakes IT people make is that they approach SOA purely from a technology perspective. They spend a great deal of time and effort on architecture, governance and vendor assessments (which is good), but they forget that SOA needs to solve real business problems (which is bad). So they invest huge amounts of time and money building the architecture — only to find that when they are done, nobody in the business understands the benefits and they’re not interested in the technology.
Recommendation: Start with real business problems first. This is why BPM (business process management) is the “killer app” for SOA. BPM improves and automates business processes. It provides visibility into operational performance, enhances agility by allowing the business to change their processes dynamically without IT involvement, eliminates waste — thus reducing costs — and much more. Start by showing the business how SOA will solve real business problems first. Then address the technology issues.
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