I was speaking with an executive from a major global bank recently, and he introduced me to the SOA revolving door problem.
This is a serious issue, particularly for larger, leading edge SOA implementers. The problem is that SOA is not easy – despite numerous claims to the contrary, SOA skills have to be developed. Just understanding Java, for example, does not make someone immediately able to deliver value on SOA projects.
The complexity of SOA and the growing need for specialists was the reason I specifically called out the emergence of SOA-related business cards in the Lustratus forecast for 2007. Unfortunately, this prediction seems to be coming true. I say unfortunately, because the combination of the time to train someone to become productive in developing SOA-based solutions and the current furore around the subject is creating the revolving door concept for early SOA users.
Within these companies, new programmers are taken on to staff the increasing number of SOA projects, and it appears that it is taking around 12 months for these people to become reliably effective. But once they ARE effective, they find they are a precious commodity with a high price tag, and as such these people then move on to new companies that are earlier in the SOA lifecycle and desperate for SOA skills. As a result, the company responsible for the -on-the-job training of these personnel now has to recruit another batch of trainees who start off life unproductive, only to see them walk out after another 12 months. As one expert leaves, a junior comes in, is trained, and then in turn leaves – hence the revolving door.
Of course, this is fine for the programmer – his or her value climbs rapidly over a 12 month period, resulting in a rapid jump in salary. It certainly seems like SOA is a good career choice, at least int he short term. But this problem is clearly becoming a major headache for the more mature SOA adopters.