Sunday, June 12, 2005

CIO's Aren't Taking SOA Serious

I'm going to make a quick prediction:

More CIO's will lose their job over SOA implementations than lost their job over ERP implementations.

I was chatting with a CIO the other day and asked him, "In retrospect, do you think you were involved enough in the early stages of your ERP implementation?"

He answered, "In retrospect - no - I wasn't involved enough. Had I known the size of it I would have definitely gotten more involved."

I followed up with, "Are you aware that an enterprise SOA roll-out will be significantly larger than your ERP implementation?"

He started laughing; he thought I was joking. My face didn't change. He quit laughing. "Jeff, are you serious?"

"Yes, I'm very serious. SOA is a complete overhaul impacting how systems are analyzed, designed, built, integrated and managed. And not just some systems - all systems including packaged applications like ERP."

He responded, "But with ERP, it was an all-or-nothing approach. Doesn't SOA offer an incremental approach - one that can be managed better?"

"Yes and No", I responded - "SOA is first and foremost about a network of services. The value of your service network is directly related to the effort of creating/obtaining services and making them available. All networks require a critical mass of 'valuable services' before they become useful to the consumers. The SOA service network is no exception. What I'm saying is that you can take a slow and steady approach to SOA but be prepared to receive gains that are even slower. Remember - this is really about the 'network effect'.

SOA done properly is a massive undertaking. It requires a rethinking of your infrastructure, development methodology, business impact analysis, budgeting process, organizational design... Don't underestimate the value it provides, the competitive advantage one can assume AND the investment it will take!"

It was clear that I had surprised my friend - perhaps even scared him a bit. And I realized that so many of the people in this space (vendors, analysts, press) are doing a disservice to the CIO by failing to tell the whole story: An Enterprise SOA implementation will be larger than ERP, Y2K and the Web.

Now is the time to get involved.

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