The SOA technology company consolidation has left us with fewer companies selling SOA technology. While this consolidation is occurring for good reason, the amount of innovation out there within the SOA space seems to be suffering. Not that big companies are not innovative, in some cases they are; however, starting from scratch is the best opportunity to come up with something nobody has yet created. That means startups.
What I'm seeing out there is more "me too." When SOA governance and ESBs seemed hot, many vendors shifted quickly over to those solution patterns that seemed to be getting the most attention. Now we're left with a bunch of technology, doing different things, that are trying to live up to the most popular buzzwords. No innovation there, just spin and hype.
There are many problems left to solve in the world of SOA. Design comes to mind. While we do indeed have "design time" SOA governance tools for building and deploying policies, there is really no good tool to guide you through the process of building a SOA holistically. I've seen a few concepts put in front of me, but they are either too high level to be useful, are too low level to be strategic. Another area would be mechanisms to better leverage services and information that are hosted outside of the enterprise. Companies are leveraging some services today, but it's mostly one-off hacks, not leveraging any strategy or common infrastructure. I could go on for hours about the missing pieces of SOA.
Truth-be-told, it's a bad time to start a SOA company. Most view this space as "emerged" and the market for venture capital is more interested in green and clean technology these days. The SOA space seems a bit "played" after five years. However, I would assert that there are many problems that need good technology to solve, and those innovations don't seem to be coming from the larger SOA players who have eaten many smaller SOA players over the last few years.
I would also have to point out that many of the smaller and older SOA companies also seem to have innovation problems. Perhaps it's too much time spent fund raising, and not enough time in the labs experimenting. Sometimes the creative juices only go so far.
Perhaps it's time for a few more SOA startups. I clearly see some voids that need filling.