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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