Crash Kills SOA On New Year's Day

On her blog, Burton Group analyst Anne Thomas Manes declared SOA dead on Jan. 1, saying it was wiped out by the catastrophic impact of the economic recession. Luckily for me, I have an alibi and I was nowhere near the accident scene when it happened.
On her blog, Burton Group analyst Anne Thomas Manes declared SOA dead on Jan. 1, saying it was wiped out by the catastrophic impact of the economic recession. Luckily for me, I have an alibi and I was nowhere near the accident scene when it happened.Besides, I previously warned SOA enthusiasts that unless they paid more attention to their failure rates and stopped spending money like drunken sailors, there was a good possibility that either someone was going to take away their car keys -- or they were headed for a fatal crash.

In her obituary, Manes, VP and research director at Burton Group, noted that SOA is survived by its offspring: "mashups, BPM, SaaS cloud computing, and all other architectural approaches that depend on 'services.' "

"It's time to accept reality. SOA fatigue has turned into SOA disillusionment. Businesspeople no longer believe that SOA will deliver spectacular benefits. 'SOA' has become a bad word. It must be removed from our vocabulary," she wrote.

"Once thought to be the savior of IT, SOA instead turned into a great failed experiment -- at least for most organizations," Manes said. "SOA was supposed to reduce costs and increase agility on a massive scale. Except in rare situations, SOA has failed to deliver its promised benefits. After investing millions, IT systems are no better than before. In many organizations, things are worse: costs are higher, projects take longer, and systems are more fragile than ever."

"The demise of SOA is tragic for the IT industry. Organizations desperately need to make architectural improvements to their application portfolios. Service-orientation is a prerequisite for rapidly integrating data and business processes and enabling situational development models like mashups. It also is foundational for SaaS and cloud computing," Manes said.

"Although the word 'SOA' is dead, the requirement for service-oriented architecture is stronger than ever," she said. Successful SOA requires disrupting the status quo and redesigning the application portfolio as well as a shift in how IT operates, said Manes.

Commenting on her blog post, Manes said, "The term 'SOA' has lost its luster. Rather than talking about 'SOA,' we now need to talk about 'services.' Stop debating about insignificant technology issues. Instead focus on building the right services that support business requirements."

Two types of services that Manes may or may not be referring to are "big Web services" that use XML messages that follow the SOAP standard, and RESTful Web services, which have become increasingly popular with Internet companies since they are better integrated with HTTP than SOAP services and don't require XML messages or WSDL service API definitions. Indeed, the current complexity of the SOAP standard (originally defined as the Simple Object Access Protocol), which now includes more than 50 specifications (each of which are in various stages of completion and ratification), might further explain lagging SOAP-based SOA deployments. Both kinds of Web services can be used to implement enterprise SOAs since they both involve separation of functions into distinct units, or services, which developers can then make accessible over a network, enabling users to combine and reuse them in creating business applications. With the recent economic downturn, there's considerable evidence that many companies, instead of investing in expensive SOA initiatives, are taking the path of least resistance and, in essence, building their SOAs on the Web, using content, Internet-delivered APIs, and lightweight RESTful services as a simpler alternative to heavyweight SOAP-based services. Like DCOM and Corba before it, SOAP seems poised to move from being a middleware that was hailed as the Internet's next-generation e-commerce infrastructure to being an obscure niche technology that is all but forgotten.

The movement away from SOAP and toward REST has exploded this past year with the rise of social networking, once end users figured out they could go to Flickr for photos, YouTube for video, or for music and then link them all via RESTful Web services into their personal page on their favorite social networking site like MySpace or Facebook.

SOAP-based SOA may very well be dead, but there's considerable evidence that REST-based SOA is alive and well -- with eyes firmly fixed on the road ahead.

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer