Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Gartner Bullish on SOA (Tell Us Something We Don't know!)

Once again, Joe McKendrick out at ZDNet published a very quotable blog article. He cites a few notable sentiments from Gartner research director, L. Frank Kenney, about the outlook of SOA and throws in a few of his own.

Kenney suggests firms "aggressively invest in SOA as it will rapidly become the architectural foundation for virtually every new business-critical application." McKendrick adds that, according to Gartner, 80% of mission-critical operational applications and business processes will be SOA-driven by 2010. (I assume these are IT solutions as opposed to "over-the-counter" ones.)

This message shouldn't shock anyone who has been following Gartner's SOA forecasts over the last few years. But what is unique about McKendrick's article is its cautionary tone against using Gartner's bullish outlook as an excuse to go on an SOA spending spree. He states that "the downside [of SOA initiatives] is that too much is being expected of SOA in too short of a time" and adds a few more quotes from Kenney supporting the notion that it can take a long time, years even, for SOA to show appreciable ROI.

The lesson here is that companies should be very careful not to run up their SOA tabs simply because SOA is becoming big business. SOA is an investment in the future of the company. Like any good investment, SOA will operate in the red for a while before it matures and begins to show real returns. (I've never heard of a passenger jet that paid for itself on its maiden voyage or a brand new office high-rise that broke even before all its floors were built.)

Companies should invest in SOA, but not foolishly. A dollar spent on SOA today is a dollar that won't be seen again until sometime after our next president is sworn in. It's a realization that every SOA stakeholder should be comfortable with. So, by all means, go shopping. But take a list! Know exactly what you're buying and how long it's going to take to pay it off.

(See my recent whitepaper for more of my thoughts on how much SOA really costs.)


Monday, April 23, 2007

Free Whitepaper on the ROI of SOA

One of the most difficult aspects of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is demonstrating tangible return on investment (ROI). Many folks concede that SOA is more of a long term value proposition than traditional architectural approaches, but that doesn't do much to lower the blood pressure of the business sponsors footing the bill. SOA programs need strong business backing to be successful, so SOA advocates need to be able to convince the business, and keep them convinced, that it is the right way to go.

I recently wrote a whitepaper that compares the fundamental economics of SOA versus classic point-to-point enterprise architecture. It puts a few simple but powerful concepts and mathematical formulas behind the oft discussed but seldom quantified differences between the two disciplines. My goal was to offer the IT community an objective analysis of the economics of SOA and a simple model for understanding and tracking its ROI over time. These concepts have helped me through many strategy meetings and I hope they can do the same for others. Here is a link to the free download (no registration required):

Bottom Line SOA: The Economics of Agility

All I ask in return for the free download is a bit of constructive feedback, either as a comment on this blog or directly to me at Also, this paper will be appearing in the June issue of SOAWorld magazine and I will be presenting it in person at the SOAWorld 2007 conference in New York City in late June. I look forward to your comments.