Technology, Cloud

Secrets behind the rapid growth of SOA

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HP Blogger

Service Oriented Architecture has been around for more than a decade and has steadily matured over the years with increasing levels of adoption. Cloud computing, a paradigm that is founded upon the fundamental service oriented principles, has fueled SOA’s adoption in recent years. ZDNet blogger Joe McKendrick calls out a survey by Companies and Markets in one of his blog posts - SOA market grew faster than expected.

Some of the statistics from this survey as referenced by McKendrick include:

  • SOA represents a total global market value of $5.518 billion, up from $3.987 billion in 2010 – or a 38% growth.
  • The SOA market in North America is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5% through 2014.

So, what are the secrets of the success that SOA seems to be enjoying?  During the past decade, I can recall a few skeptics who were not so sure about SOA’s adoption and growth.  But I believe there are 5 “secrets” behind the success story of SOA that should put such skepticism to rest:

1. Architecture. Service oriented architectures have greatly facilitated a structured approach to enterprise architecture (EA) at large. Despite debates over the scope of EA and SOA, the fact remains that service orientation is an integral part of the foundational factors considered by the enterprise architect. If anything, it has also acted as a catalyst for giving more visibility to the need for well-defined enterprise architecture to be in place for the current and desired states.

2. Application. Service orientation has promoted standardized interfaces that have enabled the continued existence of multiple applications in an integrated, cohesive manner. Thanks to a SOA-based approach, integration mechanisms are no longer held hostage to proprietary formats and legacy platforms.

3. Availability. Software Vendors have taken the initiative to make their functionality available through services. Think about the number of times you have heard a software vendor suggest Web services as their de-facto method for integrating to other systems? Single-click generation of a Web service is a very common feature across most of the software tools used for application development.

4. Alignment. SOA has greatly facilitated and realized increased alignment from multiple fronts including the following:

  • Business to IT. The definition of application and technology services is really driven by the business need in the form of business services.
  • Application to Infrastructure. SOA strategies for the enterprise have gone beyond the application layer to the infrastructure, resulting in greater alignment between the application being deployed and the supporting infrastructure. Infrastructure services are an integral part of the comprehensive set of services landscape for an enterprise.
  • Platforms and technology. Interfaces between applications are much less dependent on the underlying technologies or platforms, resulting in increased alignment between various platforms and technologies. Interoperability has been taken to new levels across the extended enterprise.

5. Adoption. SOA has served as the cornerstone for new paradigms like cloud computing. Increased adoption of SOA has also resulted in the evolution of multiple industry standards for SOA and has also led to the evolution of standards for infrastructure services to be provisioned in the cloud. Standards do take time to evolve, but when they do, it is a tacit endorsement by the IT industry of the maturity of the underlying phenomenon -- in this case, SOA.

Thus, the application of service oriented principles across the enterprise has increased SOA’s adoption spurred by the availability of readily exposed services across all architectural layers resulting in increased alignment between business and IT.

What about you? What factors come to your mind as SOA success secrets? Is your SOA experience in alignment with the statistics from the report McKendrick referenced? I would be interested to know.

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Walid Koleilat 0 Points | Sat, 08/25/2012 - 10:27

Great Post! More clients are adopting SOA these days to reap the benefits you mentioned. However, the quick rise of SOA introduced misconceptions in the mind of some IT departments. I think that Architecture and Alignment Business to IT are the by far the most challenging activities when implementing an SOA project. Architecture - creating services doesn't mean you have an SOA architecture, and you need a mature department to succeed in Alignment Business to IT. 

John Dodge 1535 Points | Fri, 11/09/2012 - 17:14

Hi Walid and welcome to the ECF. What do you think those misconceptions about SOA are?

E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Sat, 08/25/2012 - 13:44

Thank you for your kind words, Walid.  Fully agree with your observations.  Especially, the ones below:

"Quick rise of SOA introduced misconceptions in the mind of some IT departments".  This is a syndrome where IT tends to jump on the latest bandwagon associating success with a relatively new paradigm.  SOA was no exception.  The real benefits of SOA cannot be realized just because couple of interfaces were switched to use services.  There needs to be a solid foundation starting with business leading to IT based upon various aspects including business goals, service identification, governance, integration architecture, information strategy before SOA is actually embraced.  But, that would be another blog post!

"Creating services doesn't mean you have an SOA architecture".  I remember during the early days of SOA, enterprises used to claim that they have adopted SOA because they started sending XML messages over http.  Some enterprises tend to interpret SOA to be what they want it to be rather than taking the time to appreciate what it really is.  Come to think of it, the actual implementation of WSDL services is an academic act at best.  Somewhat similar to what it takes to be 100% Cloud -

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Paul Calento 255 Points | Thu, 07/26/2012 - 17:01

Helped launch an SOA event series for InfoWorld (IDG) in the mid-90's. SOA has always struck me as an approach that was inhibited, not by technology or standards, but by complexity, as well as a compelling use case outside of the obvious we "should" do it. Looks like cloud computing has become SOA's catalyst.

--Paul Calento

(note: I work on projects sponsored by and HP)


E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Thu, 07/26/2012 - 17:30

Thank you for weighing in with your comments, Paul.  Even though it goes back a few years, I do recollect the InfoWorld series you are referring to.  Agree that it has not been easy for IT to make a compelling case for SOA to Buiness.  Which is why the survey results are somewhat surprising.  As you say, Cloud computing has spurred its adoption for sure.  That said, I do wonder if there is a quid-pro-quo being enjoyed by Cloud Computing and SOA:

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Pearl Zhu 90 Points | Wed, 07/25/2012 - 18:04

enjoy the blog, with enriched resources to dig deeper into EA, SOA, CLoud conregence and more specific industry solutions, SOCCI standard via open group is also timely to help both standardize and push cloud architecture forward As far as the Five As list here: architecture, application, availability, alignment and adpotion, I think the last may also be the first -adoption, recognize users first, to understand the business value via EA, and high adoption rate may indicate project's value propostion. thanks

E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Wed, 07/25/2012 - 21:49

Thank you, Pearl, for taking the time to read my post and weighing in with your thoughts. 

Like the fact that you called out SOCCI -- just like The Open Group project team referred to it -- pronounced "Sawkey". I had fun co-chairing this project within The Open Group.

The growth of SOA is a significant contributor to the emergence of standards like SOCCI which would take otherwise take their own time to evolve.

Also, I really did not have any particular sequence in mind for the various factors and agree that they could re-arranged.

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