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"The times they are a-changin'," could easily have been written about IT in general and, right now, integration in particular. The SOA bandwagon is gathering momentum and new categories of product, foremost of which is the ESB, are promising to deliver the business agility, re-use and cost control that together comprise the holy grail of SOA integration.

But in striking contrast to this SOA euphoria, survey results are suggesting that SOA reality is not delivering -- or at least not delivering on a consistent basis. For instance, recent research from AMR revealed that 36 percent of organizations implementing SOA projects are having difficulty in re-configuring business processes. Given that this is typically the precise reason for adopting SOA in the first place, this is both a surprising and alarming result. Even more so when the same survey finds that only 13 percent of organizations not adopting SOA are experiencing the same difficulties.

The adoption of any new technology must be driven by a well-understood business case. In the case of SOA and ESB this can be summarized as:

Reduced integration costs - Improved productivity in development and deployment, thanks to standards-based and intuitive integration products

Increased re-use of existing implementations - Re-use of services in multiple applications with minimal additional effort

Improved business agility - enabling applications to be extended and evolved quickly and easily due to loosely-coupled architectures supporting the "plug and play" configuration of multiple services

With that business case in mind, perhaps it is time for a SOA reality check: can your project deliver the benefits?

Below are listed six common 'SOA delusions,' derived either from confusion or over-enthusiasm, which are causing projects to fail. Each of these has the potential not only to derail the business case within a particular SOA project, but also undermine the use of SOA across the organization. And bizarrely, each of the delusions can be found at the heart of some vendors' marketing efforts -- attempting to dress a recipe for failure as a necessary step along the road to SOA.

1. SOA is a philosophy, not a 'here and now' approach to my integration problems.

IT is bedevilled by scope creep. Simple, focused ideas mutate into multi-headed monsters doomed to failure. Through 2005, SOA has clearly started to move along this path, and to some already appears as a 'big bang' mega-project that involves creating hundreds of services, testing the business against a 'SOA Maturity Model,' creating Competence Centres and establishing elaborate frameworks for SOA Governance.


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