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Is SOA Being Embraced in Some Industries More Than Others?

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Joe McKendrick: Do the ways it's employed differ from industry to industry? For example, government agencies see it as a streamlining and integration strategy, while telecoms see it as a product strategy.

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  • It would not be right to attribute the acceptance of SOA to a particular industry as the fact of the matter is the intent or the context in which SOA has been embraced by some organizations. SOA in a way offered enterprises of mid and large scales to leverage its qualities/features to meet their end goal. The key areas of intent that we must consider are:

    • 1) M&A: During the past few years Merger and Acquisition has been the order of the day with many telecom companies apart from the other industries as they acquired smaller companies. These companies came with its own set of disparate applications and information had to be made available quickly. To enable consumption of information SOA enabled them to expose services which provided the required data without disturbing the existing applications.

    • 2) Legacy Modernization: For many old organizations such as insurance companies and banks - to expose information from their legacy applications, SOA offered a mechanism a cleaner way to façade information for consumption.

    • 3) Application Integration: For modern applications to exchange information in a standardized way SOA proved to be a big motivation as the proprietary way of exposing data wasn’t going well for the customers. Today, the likes of SAP, ORACLE are exposing their application data using Services.

    • 4) Large Scale – Centralization of Information: Again for large organizations located across the globe a Services based architecture provided the much needed mechanism to distribute data without any inconsistency.

    • 5) Collaboration with Partners and Customers: More and more companies who have to deal with SCM understand the value of exchanging information with their partners and customer with the minimum possible latency. Enabling SOA provides organizations the right platform to quickly expose services which could be consumed readily.

    So as we can see that depending on the requirements - various industries embraced SOA, the degree of acceptance majorly depended on the intent rather than a particular industry

  • Since there are no two identical definitions for what SOA is, answering that question is kind of tricky. One of the reasons for that elusive definition is the different business goals enterprises from different industries have and their maturity level.

    As Soumadeep mentioned above, different industries are usually in different maturity levels because of their legacy or the speed changes occur in that space.

    Having said that, the use of the term SOA is more wide spread in insurance, financials and banks which are in general more of the "early adapters" type.
    They are closely followed by federal government and healthcare and lastly the lagers are usually coming from the retail, automotive, manufacturing, state and local government industries.

  • I'll reverse the question and ask "what industries are not adopting SOA?" If I answer this through a 2009 perspective, I would say small and medium size businesses who tend to have limited IT resources and lack architecture skills/resources and industries who tend to view their IT as utility rather than a source of competitive advantage and as such, have standardized on COTs or a single app provider (such as some traditional manufacturing companies who are all SAP or similar).

    However, fast forward to 2010 and I now believe SOA will impact everyone in some way. Small and medium size companies are more-and-more turning to Software as a Service and SaaS providers are adopting SOA as a way to more easily deliver services, provision users and evolve without disruption. And those companies that are single app provider focused will find that these enterprise applications are also evolving to adopt SOA as their fundamental architecture.

    I believe that SOA will be as prevalent as client-server was in the early 90's or web oriented applications became at the turn of the milenium. The question is, will these customers recognize the evolution and be able to use SOA to their advantage -- to simplify integration, deliver changes faster and get more value out of their applications investment?

  • One must be very careful how to think about the answer to this question. Technically, the answer is "yes" — Forrester's data shows that, by the end of 2009, 75% of enterprises in the utilities and telecom sector will be using SOA, versus "only" 49% in the public sector. However, it would be a big mistake for those in the public sector to think that this means they should put SOA low on their priority list. Miami-Dade County (Florida, USA) used SOA to do significant improvements to its 311 phone-based information services. Queensland Transport (Australia) reduced by 75% the average cost of processing a vehicle registration. The list goes on. In every sector, there is a story to tell about how SOA, done right, is making business better. That's why, in every industry sector, the majority of SOA users are expanding their use of SOA. Those who would be leaders in their sector should ignore industry averages and strive for excellence, whether via SOA or other initiatives.

    For more of this topic, please see Forrester's report, "Across All Vertical Industry Groups, The Majority Of SOA Users Are Expanding Its Use":

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