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Untitled Document Recently, I moderated an ebizQ Webinar featuring Ann Manes Thomas from The Burton Group and Ed Horst from Amberpoint. The focus of the Webinar was governance and SOA.

There were so many great topics discussed during the Webinar that I thought it made sense to spend some time exploring them in greater detail and raise some additional points not covered.

I wanted to start off with one of the points that Ann made: specifically, the idea that SOA is not something that you buy. Instead, SOA is something that you do, and when done right, SOA is really about the culture of an organization and not about technology purchases.

For any organization exploring or implementing SOA, this is a crucial point. Sure, there's plenty of technologies that feed into and support SOA environments, and there are a lot of technology-related decisions to make as you transition to implementing SOA -- but it's really, really important to keep in mind that SOA isn't a technology. The goal of SOA isn't simply to implement a specific technology solution. Instead, it's about putting into place a culture and environment that supports the development and efficient use of technology services to support business needs.

For the most part, organizations are implementing SOA to help increase organizational and business agility and flexibility. The thought is that if an organization's IT services are flexible and agile, then they will be able to respond more quickly and effectively to meet business change.

However, unless SOA is done right, there's actually an increased risk that a SOA-based IT environment will actually be more inflexible and inadaptable than a traditional IT environment. That's because in many cases, SOA environments are more complex than traditional IT environments. In an SOA environment, applications are broken down into more individual components and services, and this can make the dependencies among services more difficult to identify and track. Organizations simply do not have as much experience with the whole SOA development lifecycle and process.

The end result is that without the right structure, culture and governance models, most SOA projects and environments will probably fail. They'll end up more fragile and brittle than a traditional solution, and they will not fulfill an organization's needs or goals. Specifically, they will not achieve the goal of agility and flexibility that most organizations are aiming for. Culture, politics and lack of adequate planning can easily turn an SOA project into a quagmire.


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