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For many organizations, SOA is a not a done deal. Even when there is a strong technical commitment to move an organization's IT infrastructure in an SOA-direction, there can remain many questions and challenges.

Of course there are the technical challenges - the actual process of creating, deploying, and managing SOA-based solutions on an enterprise scale, over a long period of time. Then there are questions about migrating, integrating or extending existing applications and services into an SOA-environment. Another important consideration for many organizations is the potential payoff from a move to SOA and how confident a specific organization is in the benefits that SOA-based environment will deliver. For example, will SOA really create a faster, more flexible IT infrastructure that can enable an organization to respond to business change more quickly?

But one of the biggest questions about SOA remains the one about money. How can or should an organization fund SOA projects? Should (or even can) SOA be funded on a project-by-project basis or should it be funded through some centralized process? How can IT managers gain funding for a migration to SOA? It's a tough question and one that many IT organizations are facing as they consider rolling out SOA on an enterprise scale.

Although as with any new technology or approach there's bound to be questions about the value of investment, I believe that one of the reasons we're seeing these money questions play such an important role in SOA discussions and planning is because of previous situations where software vendors (and/or consultants or IT organizations) have over-promised and under-delivered. The challenge in too many cases has been organizations' inability to turn initial promises and potential for new technologies or from pilot projects into real value from enterprise-wide deployments. From a funding perspective, SOA is reaping the results of previous technology shortfalls.

It's not surprising that many SOA projects are running into challenges in these areas, given the scope of SOA plans and the variable potential benefits-including ones that can be difficult to estimate. For example, reuse is often cited as a key potential benefit of SOA, but reuse generally only starts to pay significant dividends when organizations reach a mature (and widespread) level of enterprise-scale deployment. The problem is, in too many situations, an organization isn't going to know whether the potential savings from reuse will really show up or not until they actually get to the point where they've already committed significant time, money and resources to SOA deployments.


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