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At the beginning of the year, Anne Thomas Manes claimed "SOA is dead" and it caused a firestorm in the industry, particularly from those who never read much further than the headline. But of course, Manes never intended to say that SOA was invalid or useless. As an architecture, SOA is no less valid and needed than it was before Manes penned her article. But it is true that many SOA projects have died an ugly death for a few key reasons (not mutually exclusive):

  • Mistakenly adopted as the only approach to an integration strategy
  • Senior executives bought into the hype created by the technology platform vendors that SOA was a panacea to all their software ills, without evaluating if it solved any of the problems they actually had
  • Companies underestimated the importance of governance and their organization's adoption readiness
  • Lead programmers were put in the role of "architects" who didn't understand the underlying software engineering principles ensuring failure of the SOA strategy (that's a whole other article)
  • Treating architecture, especially SOA, as an developmental afterthought or secondary citizen in the software development process



So what does this all mean for SOA in 2009? Will SOA projects go forward or will they die on the vine? Well in today's economic environment, the answer is simple -- it's if you can justify the cost of the project in terms of contributions to increasing/preserving revenues, margins, and/or cost reduction. Savvy CIOs and CTOs realize that investment in certain software projects are important to improving business models and providing the infrastructure for future growth. Like any other initiative you will need to justify the project to the Line-of-Business leader, CFO and/or CEO -- only under much more scrutiny than a year ago this time.

In order to build your justification for moving forward with your SOA project, you need to develop a set of metrics that are aligned with the business objectives of the company, not traditional software development metrics (those are still important, but not for convincing your CFO that you should get the funding for the resources you need). And remember, transparency and accountability are the watchwords of today's political and economic reality, so be prepared to continuously measure and report progress against these metrics over time. Below are a number of business-oriented metrics that have been used successfully to make a business case and measure the progress of your SOA strategy.

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