I was reading Ronan’s latest post, and something leapt out at me.
Ronan was quoting a successful SOA adopter;
Reflecting what is a common experience, Kershner highlights the biggest challenge as managing and coordinating as many as 30 different project teams over 15 to 18 months.
This made me think. SOA is all about loosely coupled applications and processes, where silos are cast aside in favour of building solutions consisting of multiple, distributed and diverse components. This seems to me to point to a real challenge for those trying to implement SOA-based solutions. Consider a company running a major application silo in a legacy environment such as a mainframe. When changes are needed, there is effectively a single team with much the same skills that has to be managed to achieve the results. Now move to an SOA picture. The new requirements will be satisfied by implementing a loosely coupled set of services, spanning multiple technologies, platforms and even locations. Granted, as the pool of reusable services grows, this will become faster, cheaper and lower risk. However, from a project management point of view, it provides a bit of a headache. Instead of managing one team of same-skilled people, the requirement is now to manage multiple teams, quite possibly in different parts of the organization, to achieve the same ends.
I am confident this problem is surmountable, but it is yet another factor of SOA to take into account when planning integration initiatives. To me, it underlines perhaps the most important success factor of all in SOA adoption – communications (the people sort!) are key.