SOA users shun IBM service catalog

By , Tom Sanders, WebWereld Netherlands |  SOA, IBM, service catalog

IBM's SOA Business Catalog has failed to meet a target of collecting 10,000 services by last year's end. Customers aren't interested in acquiring individual services but look for integrated packages instead, said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBM's Software Group.

The SOA Business Catalog lists ready-made free and paid services that business can mix with services developed internally to craft enterprise applications. At the Impact 2007 conference in May last year, Mills vowed to expand the catalog to 10,000 services by the end of that year. The company fell 30 percent short of that goal: the catalog as of Monday holds 6,937 services.

The catalog didn't meet customer expectations, Mills said in an interview with Webwereld, an IDG affiliate, at IBM's Impact 2008 conference in Las Vegas.

"Customers will experiment with things that are in the catalog," Mills said. "But for the most part, they are looking for things that have greater certainty around process, application and function. [Those are] real strengths that the catalog model has not necessarily served."

IBM has shifted its investments, he explained. Rather than offering a vast choice of services that leave it up to the user to combine them and offer a functionality, the company has created packages that bundle multiple certified services. "We have shifted our investments to more industrial strength components, put together in specific packages that the customer buys," Mills said.

"Our view is that the customer goes looking for not just the components, but components wrapped with implementation services. The catalog serves a slice of the market, but we think that there is a sizeable part of the market for which these Websphere Business Fabric Composite Business Components are the preferred approach."

Analysts have predicted that third-party services such as those offered in IBM's SOA Business Catalog will spawn a multibillion dollar market. Analyst firm the Wintergreen Group last year predicted the services market to reach $17 billion by 2013.

IBM still intends to meet the target of offering 10,000 services, but Mills didn't provide a timeline for when he intends to achieve that goal.

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