Budgeting for SOA success

Invest in training, security, and emerging technologies to ensure long-term SOA results

SOA has been an enterprisewide rallying cry for the past few years, as companies have sought to unlock Web services’ potential to augment the value of existing IT resources. Yet most activity around service-oriented architecture has been limited to discussion, study, planning, and small projects. 2007, however, will witness a significant surge in SOA spending, as early adopters evolve POC (proof of concept) implementations into more robust deployments and late adopters buy into the architectural shift. Lack of insight and foresight, however, will spur many enterprises to divert too many dollars to areas that will prove less fruitful in ensuring the long-term success of their SOA.

First, too much will be spent on hype — again. Many who should be heads-down in their own requirements will get caught playing “follow the buzzword” or “manage by magazine.” This means excesses for steering committees, conferences, and POCs to the detriment of real work getting done.

Vendors, especially those pushing governance and ESBs (enterprise service buses), will get more than their due this year. Worse, such funds will be spent too early in the process, as many enterprises will look to vendors for an “SOA in a box” before they understand their own requirements. In other words, they’ll buy the house before they know where they’re going to put it.

Strategy-focused consultants, who don’t provide detailed execution plans, will be yet another bloated line item in 2007. Strategic planning is important, but the real work starts with requirements, including a semantic-, process-, and service-level understanding of the enterprise. Consulting spending will double in 2007 to $5.5 billion, according to IDC, but will results?

Companies would be better served by shifting more funds to training. SOA is as much a cultural shift as a technological one. And IT has to be versed in both to be successful. Not having the right people can be costly. More costly would be to have to replace them.

Security will again be an afterthought in 2007. And scrimping on funding now will not make up for potential losses down the road. Attention must be paid to policy management, both as a notion and as a set of technologies. Exposing services gives SOA power — not only to reap savings but also to do a lot of damage.

Finally, few companies will spend enough examining the emerging Web, specifically SaaS (software as a service) and Web services marketplaces. Many enterprise apps can be outsourced, either to SaaS providers accessible through the Web or as sets of services that may be abstracted directly into your SOA. Indeed, of all the aspects to budget for, tapping the emerging Web could provide the highest ROI. Position your SOA to bank on it.

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