Why is SOA Growing Strong?

Posted on March 21, 2012

A few years ago, many prominent industry analysts proclaimed the death of “SOA.”

This was not a surprise, given its challenging adoption dynamics, the complexity of SOA governance, the quagmire of SOA standards to deal with, and the quantity and variety of SOA enabling tools and technologies necessary to enable SOA and Web services.  Many SOA early adopters were at the well again, taking another long drink of SOA Kool-Aid in hopes of finding the pot of gold at the end of the proverbial
SOA rainbow.  Of course, next came the interface wars – should we focus on WSDL, ReST or both?  And then the economy tanked.

Many of us felt this was the end of SOA as we knew it. This belief was bolstered by the dramatic rise of Cloud computing as the hot new technology trend based on its ability to enable cost savings and speed up time to market.  Amazon Web Services (AWS) had won the day and created a completely new industry!

However, SOA is not dead, and in fact has become a solid growth business today.  There are as many new SOA starts as there are SOA re-starts, and it speaks to the “inevitability” of Services as the enabling substrate of today’s critical and emerging technology trends.   SOA is cemented in the middle of the technology curve, and its not going away any time soon.

What’s driving SOA’s adoption?  

Today, the venture capital community is funding three major classes of technologies:  Social media, Cloud computing, and Mobile technology, or some convergence of the three.  If a new technology innovation or start up venture doesn’t have a direct relationship to these three technology domains, good luck!  Furthermore, four companies are now the cornerstones of the Information Technology industry:  Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.  Why is that?  They are driving the adoption of Social media, Cloud computing and Mobile technology, or some convergence of them.  Of course, there is the other fact of life for technology innovation to deal with – that Enterprise customers are no longer driving technology innovation. Consumers are.  Consumer technologies are the market drivers for Social media, Mobile technology, and even Cloud computing as an enabling foundation.

But the big secret underlying all of these technology mega trends is Service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Services.  Cloud computing is an example of SOA.  Mobile technologies heavily rely on Web services to deliver applications, content and data from legacy back-end systems to ultra-sleek cutting edge smart phones.  Social media companies equally rely on SOA and Services to enable their data collection and advertising business modes to operate smoothly.

Today’s steady SOA growth is not a hype-driven phenomenon.  It is more of a respectful acknowledgement and recognition that when it comes to exposing legacy business services, providing data and content to mobile platforms, integrating diverse backend systems, and exploiting social media capabilities, SOA is a critical ingredient.  There really IS no other way to do this kind of work!

SOA has become the center of the universe for enabling today’s critical and emerging technologies, as illustrated below.


SOA is enabling fast access to robust data sets that are easily manipulated to meet end consumer needs. Hopefully, for everyone, firms are considering the latest security trends to encrypt data and control remote storage of private content!

Now, given that SOA is back stronger than ever, we must emphasize that SOA adoption challenges are still the same as before: 

*How do we model and design business services?

*How do we establish an Enterprise service portfolio that enables Enterprise SOA while working within a Federated organization?

*How will we composite business applications composed of services from multiple business units be supported?

*How do we eliminate redundancy across business silos and standardize on an Enterprise Service Portfolio?

*What does it mean to be an “Enterprise Service” and how does that impact the funding paradigm for companies.

*How does Corporate and IT Governance need to grow to embrace SOA?

While these SOA adoption challenges are the classic obstacles to be dealt with, they should be answered in the context of how SOA enables Social media integration and exploitation, how SOA enables mobile technologies to be harnessed to extend business model reach to new customers, and how SOA enables Cloud computing to support new business innovation and IT efficiencies.

SOA will always be critically important for its role in simplifying IT integration and providing authoritative data and content services to new mobile applications.   SOA will always have a role in enabling new technologies to access legacy business applications for their data and content.