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Thanks to the "SOA is dead" debate, service-oriented architecture has experienced quite a bit of renewed popularity and excitement in recent months. Industry analysts, pundits and spokespersons have been weighing in on both sides of the spectrum. Some have been lobbying for the death of SOA, while others strenuously emphasize its relevance to speeding up the implementation of new projects and applications.

While this debate rages on, many IT managers are left wondering what exactly to do with SOA projects that often have substantial time and cost overruns. With companies still struggling to see the types of returns promised by SOA upon implementation, SOA projects have become the third rail of the IT infrastructure.

With the current economic climate, many companies are seeking to run their businesses as efficiently as possible, and don't have the robust bottom lines that can support uncertain technology initiatives -- such as many of the standalone SOA projects that have been foundering for years.

Rather than suffer through these lean times with SOA projects that are underperforming, forward-thinking companies are recognizing the need to revamp these projects to achieve the critical returns they once promised. By implementing SOA governance initiatives with a well-planned and incremental approach, these companies are able to streamline wasteful and unruly SOA projects, eliminating duplicated development through governance practices.

SOA initiatives should aim to:

Reduce wastefulness. By reusing previously tested and validated components and services, IT departments can rapidly leverage concrete results to the business areas. By reusing these assets, companies are able to develop or integrate applications more rapidly, with better quality while reducing costs. It is important to also objectively measure how many dollars of development hours the company has saved by using what they already have. This can be achieved by using tools that provide quantitative and qualitative metrics to measure reuse level and calculate ROI for the enterprise services and components portfolio.

Down times are good times to better organize things. When business demand is slow, IT should concentrate efforts to "clean up the room." By organizing and improving the way it develops applications, correcting inefficient processes and clearly defining governance processes and policies, IT can be far better prepared to meet business needs when the economy picks up again. This enables more visibility of the services and components portfolios as well as more control of assets and IT investments. Furthermore, IT doesn't need to wait for the economy recovers to benefit from this effort, because the reuse of services and components reduces cost and improves time to market of applications.


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