Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gartner says that initial SOA adoption rates are slowing. I think they are wrong.

I just read a Government Technology article stating that Gartner says there is a dramatic decrease of organizations planning first-time SOA projects. Here's the money quote.

Since the beginning of 2008, there has been a dramatic fall in the number of organizations that are planning to adopt SOA for the first time. In 2008, this was cut by more than one-half, down to 25 percent from 53 percent in 2007, while the number of organizations with no plans to adopt SOA more than doubled from 6 percent in 2007 to 16 percent in 2008.

Unfortunately, I no longer have direct access to the Gartner research (One of the things about leaving my former employer that I will miss the most.) so I have to comment only on the secondary source, the above mentioned article. That's too bad because I can't look at the methodology used to gather the research. Knowing Gartner from the past, however, I can make some guesses.

I'm guessing they talked to IT departments and asked, “So, what are your spending plans for SOA?” and probably, “Have you already adopted SOA within your organization?” Those aren't bad questions, but I think we could all have predicted the results. Given today's economic uncertainties, Big IT isn't going to spend lots of money on big IT projects that don't have an established track record for success. Unfortunately, the success of SOA in the enterprise, at least Big SOA, is not a given.

But these results don't even come close to telling the full story. I personally have worked on three projects over the past few months that were absolutely based on a services architecture. However, if you were to ask the IT departments of these organizations about the projects, they would not have tagged them as SOA.

Why not?

Because these weren't 'SOA projects,' they were business initiatives whose solutions happened to make use of SOA. In all three cases we didn't buy expensive middleware to run the software. We didn't embark on an orgy of service writing to SOA-enable myriad legacy systems. In two of the three cases it's probable that I was the only person who knew the underlying architecture of the solution was services oriented. These were true Guerrilla SOA projects.

So while I completely believe that Big IT departments are slowing down in their implementation of Big SOA projects, I don't believe for a minute that these same organizations aren't expanding their use of SOA. It's just that IT doesn't know. And what they don't know, they can't blab to Gartner.

So take what Gartner says with a grain of salt. Sure some of the Big IT SOA projects may be on hold, but don't assume that Big IT owns all the action. SOA is happening all over, without IT knowing anything about it.

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