Monday, April 14, 2008

Market Surveys – SOA yet a Long Journey

I recently read EbizQ's SOA Market Pulse a global SOA survey done by the company via internet published on January 2008 and sponsored by IBM.
The survey is not a scientific survey, because the sample may be biased. However, Major SOA Trends are probably reflected. I would suspect that more refined findings are not accurate.
The most interesting findings in my opinion are:

Current State
Finding: Almost half of the participants have any SOA implementation and another third have plans to implement SOA.
My Take: SOA is Mainstream but not yet implemented in most enterprises. (Similar finding of 48% was found in the on the spot Israeli survey done in STKI Summit).

SOA Efforts
Finding: Most of the companies build "Islands of SOA": Multiple SOA initiatives with multiple teams and no centralized control. In some organizations there are ten different SOA initiatives.
My Take: Probably it is not easy for large enterprises to have a single unified SOA initiative and no Services redundancies. Fragmented efforts result could be a failure of the SOA implementation. This problem is not new and not SOA specific. I already faced this problem in many organizations, with no unified architecture and no central architectural group. Many years ago, I send a query to Giga Information Group (now part of Forrester Research) about future development environment of an organization: J2EE or .Net or both. A detailed background was included in the query. The analyst Mike Gilpin answered a question that was not asked: He recommended creating a Central Architecture Team. This answer was more important than the direct technological answer, because with no overall Architecture control the fragmented efforts will create a chaotic inefficient IT architecture.

Scope
Finding: Third of the survey participants SOA deployments are Enterprise-wide.
My Take: Does it indicate some mature SOA implementations or Early Adopters (Success Stories) or misconception of Enterprise-wide? Probably at least some of them implement successful Enterprise-wide services.

Technologies
Finding: Technologies frequently used for SOA Integration (in descending order): Web Services (SOAP, WSDL), J2EE Aplication Servers (WebSphere, WebLogic etc.), XML (REST over HTTP), Microsoft .Net, WebSphere MQ, ESB, Proprietary Integration Techniques, WebSphere Message Broker, Web-Enabled back-end systems with Host Emulation.

My Take:
  • REST is used in enterprise context more than expected (by more than 50%)
  • ESB is used a lot less than I would expect
  • More than 20% are using proprietary techniques: Is it because of immaturity of SOA solutions or inadequate Organizational Maturity Level or a preliminary stage of SOA implementation?
  • IBM is a leader in integration but by comparing usage of WebSphere MQ to the less frequently usage of WebSphere Message Broker (EAI tool) we can learn something about the limitations of EAI.
Finding: Most popular Technologies and approaches (including current usage and plans for 2008) in descending order: Application Servers, Composite Applications, Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), Service Registry and Repository, System Management, Pre-Build Frameworks.

My Take:
  • Application Servers market leaders may emerge as SOA market leaders
  • Composite Applications are important do not expect a simple architecture with no usage of current assets. Do not expect a standard based only solutions.
  • Are pre-Build Frameworks adequate or we should expect a second generation of SOA implementations?
Applications
Finding: Customer Service, Sales and Marketing are the most frequent Service Enabled applications.

My Take:
  • Customer applications are relatively good candidates for SOA enablement: in many cases relatively new and therefore implemented using relatively new technologies, Business Services boundaries are relatively clear and they may be non-transactional systems, most users are not Power End Users, who could be too sophisticated for the first phases of SOA implementations. Yankee Group's Research Notes few years ago identified the Contact Center as ideal starting point for SOA initiatives.
Motivation
Finding: Frequent motivations for SOA in descending order: Improve Business Agility, Integrate Systems, Reuse existing and new assets, Improve Business Processes efficiency, Reduced Development and Maintenance Costs, Improve Control and Manageability of the Business
My Take:
  • Very different from STKI Israeli market survey results: EbizQ survey results most frequent motivation is Business Related all motivations in STKI survey results are IT related with Integration as the leading motivation. STKI results could be interpreted as indicating IT professionals only sample, however it could also indicate a wrong attitude to SOA implementations in many sites in Israel namely IT only SOA.
Wrap up
Drawing conclusion from a survey based on a sample which could be biased is dangerous. However, ebizQ survey indicates that SOA is a Mainstream Paradigm, which could be a leading paradigm in the future. More time is needed until it will be fully implemented in most IT organizations. The Journey is long, complex and difficult. Expect for many failed SOA initiatives.
STKI Israeli Market Survey sample is less biased it represents the Israeli IT market because high percent of the Israeli IT Enterprises participated. As no Business Users participated and SOA was one of many topics, conclusions based on it could be misleading as well. In spite of those considerations I would take the risk to conclude: the Israeli SOA market is less mature and failure rate will probably be higher.

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