Yesterday, I had an interesting discussion with another SOA veteran on the subject of barriers to successful SOA. The conversation led to a fairly obvious conclusion that several parties aren't pulling their weight. The parties we discussed included: the Venture Capital Community, Standards Bodies, I.T. Analysts, the Press, the Academics, SOA Infrastructure Vendors, Consulting and Training Vendors, Packaged Application Vendors and Design Tooling Vendors. Here is my personal view on their success:
Venture Capital Community
The VC's did their job. They invested early; many of the investments were made in the days following 9-11 which was a tough time for anyone to invest, but they did it. And when they did, they funded deep - but not too deep. It wasn't crazy dot-com investment. As their investments grew up, they did a good job helping them to find parent companies. On a scale of 1 - 10 stars, I'll give the VC a solid 10 on SOA.
Many will argue that a key enabler of SOA was the creation of Web Service standards. The creation of SOAP, WSDL, UDDI and the WS-* stack has been both a blessing and a curse. Often the concepts of SOA are tied to implementations and the limitations of those implementations are then attached to SOA. This is a tough one for me to score. IMHO, the real standards work was done behind closed doors at IBM and Microsoft and then handed to the standard bodies for cleaning and revising. In some cases the standards bodies did more harm then good. Overall, I'll give them 6 stars.
The I.T. analysts got on the SOA bandwagon pretty early. Overall they did a good job of covering an extremely broad subject. Boutiques like ZapThink, Burton Group, CBDI and Macehiter Ward-Dutton showed precision analysis and deep insight. While Gartner, Forrester and IDC all did a sincere job covering the space, their insights often lagged the blogs and mainstream media. I'm giving the I.T. Analysts 8 stars.
The press has been overly generous on the topic of SOA. Most of the large publications have a regular column on SOA and even an SOA blog. Some, like Infoworld, have even held SOA conferences. I think that the reporting has been fair, but often light. Maybe I'm too old, but I remember back when magazines would do more lab testing and comparing products. This just doesn't seem to happen very often anymore. Now, we vote on 'hot products'; how lame is that? If the press would bring back the labs (or more case studies), I'd give them a solid 10. But lacking this I have to give them a 7.
I have no expectations for the academics to do anything. And in my opinion they haven't. They're just where I like them. Hence, they get a solid 10.
SOA Infrastructure Vendors
Infrastructure such as: XML Appliances, ESB's, Orchestration Engines, Smart Intermediaries, Web Service Management/Monitoring, Registries and Repositories became mainstream in the SOA era. For the most part, I was impressed with the ingenuity that the startup's demonstrated in forging their products. And even some of the big guys like IBM showed that they have game. I'd love to give these guys a solid 10 but I can't. It's because of the big lie. These vendors have told customers that their products work with each other and for the most part they don't. HP/Systinet promoted the Governance Interoperability Framework as a solution, but in my personal opinion, they completely failed to deliver. And the rest of the vendors have sat on their lazy asses acting like the problem doesn't exist. I'm giving them 7 stars. How ironic is it that SOA vendors lose 3 stars for having a lack of interoperability?
Consulting and Training Vendors
As a consulting and training vendor - this is a hard one to do. There are a few companies like MomentumSI that I believe are doing a good job of helping organizations make the transition to SOA. The problem is that there are only a few doing a good job and a very large percentage who are not. Consulting companies should be able to quickly deliver SOA best practices, methodology adjustments, job descriptions, project mentoring and deep knowledge on tough subjects like governance and change management. For the most part, the big guys (Accenture, BearingPoint, CSC, EDS, SAIC, WiPro, etc.) are still very immature. There are a few notable exceptions, in my opinion Infosys, CGEY and IBM Global Services are all making sincere attempts to build out their SOA competency, with IBM leading the pack. I'm going to have to give this category 6 stars.
Packaged Application Vendors
First, as long as this category is called 'packaged apps' and not 'packaged services' I'm probably going to bash it. I remember back when we used to talk about the end of 'big bang implementations'. This was the idea that you wouldn't spend 3 years installing and configuring a huge monolithic application like SAP. Instead, you'd do it one service at a time. Ha! The packaged app companies were quick to get on the SOA bandwagon. They realized that this paradigm offered a genuine threat to their model and were quick to say that they embraced it. The question is, "embraced what?" That they'd web service enable BAPI's and hide the ABAP code? You've gotta be joking? And there is a reason why people refer to the Oracle strategy as conFUSION. Without a doubt, the best thing that these guys have done is made promises about SOA indicating to customers that SOA is the future. Yes, because of their marketing efforts I am forced to give this category 2 stars.
Design Tooling Vendors
In every paradigm change, we require new tools to facilitate the new architecture. In past generations we saw wonderful products like Rational Rose, ER/Win and TogetherJ rise to the occasion. I am so disappointed in the lack of progress in this category. The EA modeling vendors have demonstrated 'pompous ignorance' and failed to deliver anything resembling modern SOA tooling. Notational standards for service models remain in their infancy. I firmly believe that the lack of SOA modeling standards and tools will defer the adoption cycle. This category deserves zero stars.
Now the burden is on the buyer. Did the SOA Community fail you or will you fail it? It is the responsibility of every buyer to push the community to do a better job. Money talks.