So 90 per cent of organisations are introducing or planning to introduce SOA according to a report by analysts, the Aberdeen Group. It is reported that the Group also suggests that making such moves will eat up to 40 per cent of the typical IT budget. Hmmmm, a pinch of salt might need to be taken with that, I suspect.
For a start, no matter how keen I am on the SOA as the way forward, I suspect that a good deal less than 90 per cent of organisations are as close to it as suggested. If the `planning’ bit also includes thinking about thinking about it, then I’d accept the number – I’d think about thinking about the earth being flat if reasonable evidence started appearing. The evidence that SOA is a good idea is already widespread. It is also the way most companies – and individual users - will go in the long term, but that does not mean that many companies are that close to implementing it.
And as for consuming 40 percent of the IT budget, well: as it is generally accepted that 75 per cent is already consumed by maintenance of existing applications and infrastructure that makes a mathematically improbable 115 per cent budget. Alternatively, if it is 40 per cent of the remaining 25 per cent – just 10 per cent of the total budget – that could be considered a damned fine investment for the benefits in increased flexibility and speed of response to new business challenges, which is where revenue growth is most likely to be found.
Ten per cent is also a reasonable rate of investment in SOA given the way implementation is likely to go. It is a warm day in Antarctica
Yes, SOA is going to start life as an additive to existing systems. It would be a very foolish company that set out on a whole-scale rip-and-replace just because SOA is a `good thing’. But that additive nature will diminish as existing infrastructures come to the end of their useful lifecycle, and I know Microsoft understands the likelihood that a reducing number of users will be buying outright licences in future years. That business model for software vendors is doomed.
What follows it is still the matter of conjecture, and there are many attempts at generating new models starting to appear. One such is DreamFactory, which describes itself as a `leading provider of adaptive on-demand applications’. (As an aside, I wish to God companies that are in a brand new, untried market would stop describing themselves `leading’ anything – except perhaps in marketing bullshit).
In practice, what the company is doing is providing a set of applications and tools via the salesforce.com AppExchange service. I am not going to venture an opinion on the products themselves – one must assume that they have been sufficiently tested to at least work together in any loosely coupled composite SOA environment, as well as work with any other application or tool in the AppExchange roster. Without casting any judgement whatsoever, I accept that this may be a major and possibly foolish assumption for any IT manager to make.
But setting that proviso aside, this model of offering components specifically designed to be elements in a composite service is the way most software vendors have to move. In addition, the AppExchange approach shows signs of being an embryonic service aggregator, the type of operation that will, in a future where utility computing is far more widespread and normal, be the primary source of services for most users.
There is much that still needs to happen before we get there, of course. Not least is the fact that AppExchange charges out on a monthly subscription model, which can often be just a deferred payment version of the buy-the-licence model. Not till payment-per-use, and indeed micropayment-per-microuse, comes along will outsourced services make a good business model. Till then, Ray Ozzie will probably stay `right’.