Is SOA Dead?

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The Burton Group's Anne Thomas Manes wrote a provocative post yesterday declaring that SOA (as a term at least) is dead. It will, of course, be replaced by...(drum roll, please)...SERVICES! Hmm...isn't that what the "S" in SOA stands for? To quote Manes:

Once thought to be the savior of IT, SOA has instead turned into a great failed experiment—at least for most organizations. In the beginning, the forecast for SOA was to reduce costs and increase agility on a large scale, but except in rare situations, SOA has not delivered those promised benefits.

But, take solace, consultants everywhere! For all is not lost...

SOA is survived by its offspring: mashups, BPM, SaaS, Cloud Computing, and all other architectural approaches that depend on “services”.

Ah, I knew there had to be a silver lining to that cloud (*sniff*).

Cheekiness aside, the reality is that many organizations haven't really had a clue as to what SOA really is or how to do it. They, led by all too eager vendors and the general vagueness of the term itself, naively equated "SOA" with tacking on web services to their existing applications or building an ESB like a "field of dreams"--which many did, and dutifully waited for the magic transformation to come. It never did, mostly because many organizations were already too mired in years (indeed decades) of creating siloed applications. True service-orientation, however, required a re-thinking of traditional methods of doing IT, a shift that met silent but stiff resistance in many organizations. SOA demanded a revolution in thinking, something most organizations were simply not ready for.

So the term "SOA" must die, and give rise to equally vague (but much trendier) and equivalent terms. Silently and slowly, though, an evolution will happen: out of necessity, if nothing else. For services are an economy of form in an inter-connected world.

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