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Ronan Bradley

Who is holding SOA back: business or IT?

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When I started to write this item I was tempted to use the title “Daddy, Mommy won’t let me play with SOA? however I held back because it is too serious a subject for a one-liner. The topic of whether IT is holding back particular innovations which business wants or vice versa is hardly new. Many will claim that the PC revolution in the enterprise was slowed down in some organizations by IT departments keen to stay in control – until the demands of business departments and their unilateral actions forced the issue.
Is the same blocking happening with SOA? ZapThink certainly seem to the think so with the claim :

“What ZapThink is finding is that the primary barriers to SOA adoption do not come from business management, which by and large realize the benefits of an agile, reusable, and loosely coupled architecture (even if they don’t call it that), but rather from within the IT organization that resists the movement to SOA for a wide range of reasons?

And Ron certainly makes some good observations on why IT departments can struggle with adopting SOA – everything from the challenge of making the required organizational change to general fear of the new to believing SOA could threaten their jobs.

While it is obvious as Joe McKendrick points out that "few analysts, commentators or pundits seem to argue the point that SOA is facing resistence", I think it is too simplistic to say business gets it and IT doesn’t or doesn’t want to. First of all, lets be realistic: Of course SOA is facing “resistance? – any major shift, as SOA is, takes time to be adopted and some organizations will go slow, others will jump ahead. Frankly - either decision can be right depending on individual circumstance.

Secondly, because SOA promises benefits that no sane business person would turn down does not mean that every business person will drive it though the organization (“the business sell? as David Linthicum puts it). What I suspect ZapThink is picking up from some SOA proponents is a “soft yes? to SOA from business, based on the benefits and frustration when IT management can’t convert this to a “hard yes? with budget. The reasons for this difficulty have been widely discussed and relate to the generality of the benefits which can be SOA’s worst enemy as my colleague Steve Craggs puts it:

the platitudes surrounding SOA have been used for 20 years on business execs, so they can be forgiven for having grown rather cautious, and desirous of looking for incremental investment where payback can be validated at each stage.

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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