"I don't know why people hire Architects and then tell them What to do." - Frank Gehry

It was not love at first sight, ten years back. She enchanted me with her unconventional approach. I adored the simplicity laced in her solutions or how she decimated Complex situations into simple tasks. The long journey with her till date was fruitful, as she gave more to my life taking less efforts from me.

She is SOA. Here... my dream / nightmare ends. Now let's start flirting with the reality.

My Tryst with SOA

SOA for the rich : One of the fortune Client assigned me with the redesign of legacy Application. The Lead's opinion is that SOA-BPEL Product is mainly used for transformations and not good for developing Process logic. I'm not sure if he is richer than Bill Gates, to buy a million dollar Product just for transformations.

His subordinate's view is that, SOA-BPEL product chokes up, but a similar code written by him can do wonders, thus imparting me a precious survival lesson : Always blame the Product not our Knowledge.

After a month of brain storming sessions, both decided to discard the evil SOA and replace the existing Java based Application with the "brilliant new" Java Code. Well... "life often comes in full circle. - SOA philosopher"

SOA in Auto Pilot mode : Another Client overcame above "rich" mentality, clearly understanding the advantages of SOA and focussd on SOA adoption. The Client was quite generous on purchasing a high cost SOA product ( even on CSR initiatives ). But, the generosity fumbled when hiring SOA expertise.

The Client was keen on hiring Developers with "Can Do" attitude, who can "Learn at work". Some Corporates are very good at buying Aircraft but not the Pilots.

The in-house development team simplified ( at least in their thoughts ) that SOA Suite is nothing but an App Server ( making one wonder why did they buy a SOA product rather stick with App server ). When the complexity of SOA-BPEL understood in the last minute roll-out, The team "resolved" it by "delegating" it to a SOA resource for fire fighting.

SOA, the Problem Child : When any corporate buys a flashy new SOA toy it is natural that everyone wants to try it. Call it enthusiasm, job security, political diplomacy. But in the end, the ultimate sufferer is SOA.

They did not allow the SOA environment to mature in isolation. Few initial failed SOA implementations can be detrimental to the Enterprise SOA adoption.

SOA is priceless. Really?

SOA Products are sold in the market as a magic software which mints money. Well, Greed sells better than SOA.

The reality is that:

Enterprises spends a lot more on SOA Development and Maintenance.

The SOA adoption process is challenging with a steep learning curve. SOA Products performs the coding part leaving configuations to the Client. This is different from conventional developing from scratch, demanding Product knowledge.

Reusing services remains a myth. The reuse advantage may not be as huge as marketed.

SOA Process enabler

A case for SOA.

SOA is a vision. It is all about bigger picture, imagining well connected IT assets communicating to each other with minimal effort. SOA can provide that Midas touch, turning Corporate's legacy liabilities to future proof functional assets.

The real ROI lies in minimizing the development and maintenance efforts in future. Most of the SOA development boils down to configurations, rather development.

The real ROI comes with the holistic view of Process enablement across Exterprise IT assets. You deal with processes rather transactions. ( BPEL )

The ROI lies in future enablement. SOA is the doorway to heaven ( Cloud computing...angels are waiting there )


This is worm's eye view, as a fringe player helping clients in SOA adoption, I often sense the ground realities are different from CIO or enterprise view, as mentioned.

My apologies for my irreverence / your failed search for my humility on this post.

There are countless successful SOA adoptions, despite the costly failures mentioned above. In fact, some of the clients facing above teething problems have resolved it in due course. Despite all it's drubbings received from failed enterprises, SOA has matured enough to be a force to reckon with. The bottomline is, IT needs a strong leadership, vision, execution and governanance for successful SOA adoption.

It is pretty ironic that, personally we are fine with indulging ourselves with the latest technology of smartphone, allowing our enterprise to be in legacy state.

Just like Lovers may fail but Love never fails, SOA adoption never fails because of SOA.