May 11, 2005, 2:15 PM —
|Setting the stage for SOA|
|SOA - why now?|
|About the authors|
|About Macehiter Ward-Dutton|
|Download the complete report|
This analyst report from Macehiter Ward-Dutton explores the various perspectives tied up with the question of what constitutes an IT service and shows how to avoid the risks of missing the real point of SOA. The sections excerpted here discuss how SOA can be used to improve IT-business alignment, tips for a successful SOA initiative, and the role of Web services.
The common understanding of SOA today (a particular arrangement of middleware technology which provides infrastructure for integrating and composing Web services) is a simple one. Pursuing an IT initiative based on this understanding can bring benefits. But SOA in this context will not by itself deliver significant improvements in the alignment of IT with business needs. The concept is too limited in scope and too focused on software development issues.
Improving "IT-business alignment" requires an evolution both in technology and technology thinking, which makes it easier for organizations to more effectively exploit their existing IT assets and re-prioritize IT investment, delivery and strategy so that IT assets can be more readily directed to deal with business change.
This evolution depends on a service-based approach to the delivery of IT, but the current focus of SOA "innovation" is far too narrow. The danger of the "simple view of SOA" is one of over-inflated expectations. Business and IT professionals alike are being targeted by vendors which position SOA as "something that you can buy" that can make a significant positive impact on the alignment of IT and business. But in fact, a SOA initiative which addresses a discrete IT project, if considered in isolation, will most likely fail to deliver the kinds of benefits you might expect, and lead quickly to disillusionment. SOA is an evolved approach to thinking about how IT services are designed and delivered: and the business case for adopting it should be made in this context.