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What reason do you give for the initial failure of SOA?

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In this post on InfoQ, Burton Says SOA Is Rising From Ashes, there seems to be near universal agreement that SOA is back on the rise.  That means, many are wondering why there was an SOA failure, or downturn, in the first place.  So what reason do you give for SOA's failure?

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  • SOA per se (i.e. the architecture principle) does not "fail"; however I'm sure some implementations are overly complex with the service overheads costing more than the business logic that is the whole purpose of the application or services. I'm sure some folks oversold the benefits too...

    In any case, I don't consider SOA to be "rising from ashes" but continuing to be a "best practice" alongside the emerging Event Driven Architecture.

  • Enterprise wide SOA died because IT attempted the business management job to define an Enterprise based on services. Enterprise wide SOA would be dead until business succeeds the partitioning of the Enterprise in services.
    SOA, as an integration technology for applications and web, never died.

  • The claim that SOA had failed is an invention of the blogosphere with nothing more than anecdotal evidence from pundits. Sure, like every major paradigm shift, SOA has had it's share of growing pains, mistakes made and lessons learnt.

    But every major quantitative research published - even during the 'SOA is Dead' phase of 2009 and 2010 - showed that adoption kept growing and for a majority of adopters SOA was delivering benefits or for many it was too early to tell.

    Some of the SOA doomsayers were Burton analysts. And one of the sources of research proving SOA benefits was Gartner. Now that Burton is part of Gartner, they have no choice but to 'resurrect' SOA to reconcile the two views.

    If you were holding your breadth for someone to say SOA has value, then good for you. For the rest of us, this is irrelevant. We are busy rolling up our sleeves putting SOA into action.

  • While Burton, Gartner and others make an industry by worrying about whether SOA works the world has moved on. Most serious enterprises ARE taking SOA seriously and just doing it. It's only the industry analysts that continue to play Doubting Thomas because they never actually get their hands dirty. See my blog Lazarus or Thomas Effect http://tinyurl.com/36dudq2

  • SOA does not fail. It is people who do not understand what SOA is but claim they "do it" fail.

  • We've gone from SOA, to SO-What. I agree that it never really failed, and it is quietly contributing real value today. It might have gotten a bad reputation just because a few early adopter companies bought a particular vendor's SOA "bill of goods" or ran down a JBOWS (Just a bunch of web services) route, and found everything didn't fit together as expected, projects ran over, etc...

    That rep of a few people getting burned (perhaps by not fully embracing a SOA approach) was the only real issue with SOA. 3-4 years ago we were finding some IT leaders stating "I'm NOT doing SOA - DON'T mention it again in this room, we are doing continuous integration," but despite avoiding the term they were indeed moving down a SOA path. Now, major enterprise IT does not need to make this distinction.

  • I completely agree with the general sentiment thus far - SOA, the architecture, had never failed; rather it was the implementation and execution that never measured up to expectations. Conversly, we might have a better chance of success with SOA in its "second coming" since (i) the hype has been tempered down considerably with a healthy dose of reality, (ii) the technology has matured significantly to support a service architecture (think Clouds, Virtualization, ESBs, etc.), and (iii) we have matured as a community.

  • John your SO What is interesting! I now advise SOA is the foundational architecture. As enterprises achieve a critical mass of traffic on the bus, the opportunity is to add new patterns and behaviors onto the bus that enable BI (bus intel) MI (mgt info) Events, Complex Events, Semantic Integration . . . that together enable more responsive business processes - dynamic response to events. "So what" says SOA is merely a layer, a very important layer in an emerging stack that adds considerable value.

  • As an architecture movement it's pretty absurd to say that SOA failed.

    It's like saying Bauhaus architecture "failed" it's a ridiculous statement.

    You can easily say that a building is a failure. You can even say that a building that was made in the Bauhaus architectural style failed. You can even go so far as to say that the building failed *because* of the architectural style.

    But I would point my finger at the architect who made a faulty blueprint or the builders who made faulty buildings. There are many fine examples of buildings in the Bauhaus style, as there are IT implementations in the SOA style.

    Failures belong to those who made them fail.

    My 2 cents.
    Miko Matsumura

  • Of course, Miko's right. SOA was never dead. Deep changes in business and technology methods take time. The original 'dead' story was just hype-cycle flogging. Tsk. Comic books like to kill off their lead characters once in a while, to raise sales. Enough "Superman is Dead" stories, please.

  • SOA has failed in several companies. I believe the reason for that most of the time is that those companies were not mature enough. SOA requires a certain level of organizational maturity

  • SOA's "failure" was not an issue with the methodology or philosophy itself, but the result of over-inflated expectations that it would fix enterprise IT issues with a snap of the fingers. Actually Gartner did get it right with their "hype cycle," that as is the case with all tech trends, SOA crested at the top of the hype cycle a few years back, then went through a let-down period when it didn't immediately deliver ("trough of disillusionment"). Now it's moving up the "plateau of productivity," or what I call "let's-roll-up-our-sleeves-and-make-the-thing-work" phase. No noise, no fanfare, just quiet, hard work to start to see gradual payback. SOA was never intended to be an instantaneous fix -- it is a gradual process that begins to deliver as the years go on.

  • As indicated by many other answers what really failed were many SOA implementations. SOA is now a mainstream paradigm as indicated by many surveys showing consistently that it at least 50% of enterprises are implementing SOA.
    I completely agree with Joe's comment about the Hype Cycle. It takes many years until SOA, as any other Architecture and Technology, reaches the "plateau of productivity" stage. However, still most of the SOA implementations are not providing the expected Value or in some cases any Value.
    We should not forget that SOA is a long journey and the benefits could be Long Term benifits, so both the architecture and specific implementations has a long cycle.
    It took many years for successful SOA initiatives, e.g British Telecom, to get to a stage of properly Reusing a large number of Capabilities and Services.
    Still many implementations fail due to organizational reasons and wrong approach.
    As far as Burton Group and Gartner, are concerned you can read my post Revival or no Death at all: Burton Group and the Lazarus Effect http://avirosenthal.blogspot.com/2010/11/revival-or-no-death-at-all-burton-group.html

  • SOA never failed. Just because someone implements something poorely doesnt mean the idea, methodology, architecture or technology failed...If one IT project fails, does that mean IT is a failure for business? No...

    SOA is getting more popular because business is understanding the benefits of it more and more. I think people are also understanding that SOA doesnt always mean, "has to be on the web", rather SOA can be delievered within the firewall for internal consumption and external consumption if necessary. I still here far to many people talking about SOA and stating it must be up in the cloud...These people contribute to perhaps others claiming something is a failure...

  • Yeah, I'm in violent agreement with the previous comments.

    If SOA ever really died, it died as a marketing/consultantese buzz word. The reality is that the principles underpinning SOA have largely been subsumed by several other architectural movements that are accepted and promoted by companies today. Modern BPM and SaaS are two practices that couldn't exist if SOA had really died.

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