Barely a third of companies that have adopted service-oriented architectures are achieving a positive return on investment, Nucleus Research found in survey results released this week. Developers increase productivity in IT departments that use SOA, but these savings alone are "not enough to justify an investment in broad SOA efforts," Nucleus states in the report, titled "Benchmarking: Service-Oriented Architecture."

"Only 37 percent of companies [that have adopted SOA] have achieved a positive return on their SOA investments," Nucleus writes. ROI is limited by the cost of SOA tools and technologies, training, governance and support.

Less than one-third of companies use registries and repositories, which tell employees what services are available for reuse. SOA tends to be narrowly adopted within businesses, and the absence of registries and repositories makes it difficult to expand use of SOA services, says report author David O'Connell, a senior analyst at Nucleus.

"You get a few developers using it and that's terrific. But ... you need registries and repositories to broadcast the availability of the services," O'Connell says.

Nucleus surveyed 106 organizations, big and small, and found that less than four in 10 developers use SOA. Developers often resist SOA because they prefer to write their own code rather than reuse code created by others, the report states.

Funding shortages create more barriers to SOA adoption by limiting money spent on training developers and implementing registries and repositories.

More findings from the Nucleus report include:

* Healthcare organizations have the highest adoption rates, with more than 60 percent of developers using SOA. A services approach is well suited to the heterogeneous nature of many healthcare applications.

*After healthcare, SOA adoption rates are highest in the following industries: services, finance and insurance, and technology.

*On average, SOA impacts 27 percent of current IT projects.

"While some companies have had pockets of success with SOA applications, the promise of broad reusability, clear governance, and business process optimization is still more PowerPoint than reality," O'Connell writes. "Until one -- or multiple -- vendors actually invests in building the application layer to support broad SOA adoption and reuse, users' best bets are to focus on small projects with clear ROI, rather than broad SOA architecture initiatives.

This story, "SOA's ROI MIA" was originally published by Network World.

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