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Ronan Bradley

IBM's big bet on SOA

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Sometimes when you are deep in a particular technology area it can be hard to figure out how your area is really regarded by those looking in from the outside. For instance, IBM clearly cares about SOA but how important is it really to that huge organization?

The question was answered for me when IBM’s annual report arrived in my mailbox yesterday. SOA is the highlight of the Software section and Software accounts directly for $15.8b of IBM’s $88.3b and must be indirectly responsible for a large chunk of the $47.4b in services revenue. Unlike any number of interviews by execs on technology websites or press releases, if a company puts something into the annual report and even more so highlight it as the most important trend, they mean business. And to quote Samuel J. Palmisano, CEO of IBM, in his opening letter:

“There is a significant shift underway in the world of software toward what is called Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).? And
“IBM is in a strong position to capitalize on the SOA market which some analysts expect to more than double, to $143b, by 2008?

Having read this, I decided to read again the announcement from IBM at the beginning of April. This is the one where they announced 31(!!!) SOA products –11 are new and the rest are enhancements to existing products. IBM also claimed to have trained 90,000 of the company’s business consultants for SOA implementations. All of which was framed by Steve Mills, head of IBM Software Group, as the fruits of IBM’s $1b per year bet on SOA. Again - impressive commitment.

Clearly SOA is key, if not the core, to IBM’s software strategy. We will of course have to wait and see if this “shock and awe? approach to dominating a market will work - not to mention solve the customer problems. I do wonder how 31 separate products (so far!) can really deliver the simplicity and agility that is meant to be at the heart of SOA. More importantly, SOA is about providing a solution, not selling an even more complex collection of products.

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Not that my voice counts for much, but I find the IBM Websphere SOA branding of so many products completely overwhelming. Trying to follow their product roadmap is a full time job, and there constant pitch on SOA is really annoying when you're just trying to get there patched together portal products to work.

Ronan Bradley's blog on infrastructure technology news and trends in the retail banking, captial markets and beyond.

Ronan Bradley

Ronan Bradley has specialized in business integration technologies and their application for over 15 years, View more

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