Recently there has been a lot of talk about what it takes to make SOA work. While many are inclined to point to technology, the reality is that leadership and talent are the underlying critical success factors around a working SOA. Checking out Joe McKendrick's blog on this topic, I found a few key paragraphs that got down to this issue, including one that cited InfoWorld's own Eric Knorr.
"Eric Knorr, editor at InfoWorld, noted that successful SOA efforts he's seen are usually driven by a 'visionary' type. Eric noted that 'in case study after case study, you run into a chief architect, or even a chief technology officer sometimes, who has really made that connection, in an SOA context, between not only looking at the business processes, but breaking them down into business services and figuring out how to map a technical infrastructure against that. That leadership is so important, because SOA is such an elusive concept that it's very easy to fall back into the old habits of enterprise application integration (EAI), and thinking in terms of point-to-point integration and not thinking in terms about the last presentation, that strategic value."
Best case made so far on this topic.
Thus, as we've been saying, this is a people not a technology issue. We need to get clear around the resources we'll need to drive the changes, and it may not be the existing leadership and staff. Like major surgery, change requires some pain, but it can save your life, or in this case the company.
Clearly we are at a crossroads in the world of enterprise architecture. Some Global 2000 enterprises are driving architectures that are so inefficient that critical business decisions are being delayed or altered to work around the limitations of the infrastructure. Indeed, how many times have you heard that things will take years and not months, sighting past mistakes and the complexities of the layers upon layers of technology built up over the years?
While we understand the existing issues, perhaps too clearly, the solution is to put your faith into a "visionary" who also understand how to get things done, and is empowered to do so. You'll find an initial upheaval, and a lot of pushback from the rank-and-file, but once everyone sees the results, the objections will fall by the wayside. Moreover, you need talented individuals to work with the leader, people who can also see the vision and get things done.