Lots of companies have spotted something they like in SOA, but the next problem is, how to get approval for SOA investment.
This is a real problem – SOA has many different appeals, but apart from the reasonably concrete promise of cost reduction through code reuse and removal of rednundancy, most are somewhat intangible. Worse still, the benefits may be difficult to prove and will take time to accrue. And on top of this, it may be hard to establish a clear link between SOA and major business initiatives to get the necessary priority on the investment.
Somehow, over the years, the old “it’s the right thing to do, boss – honest!” approach seems to have lost its effectiveness. Tiresome CIOs and CFOs seem to want to see actual results – this year…..darn them!
So, IT staff are becoming quite smart about the tricks to get SOA in. This blog entry covers one of them – the viral approach.
Viral SOA sounds like something nasty that you might catch if you don’t wash your hands. But in a way, the idea is to let the company ‘catch’ SOA without really being aware of it. So, to get the pieces of the SOA Ecosystem in place, companies will slip different components into funded projects. For example, if messaging is not in place, a JMS could be introduced as part of a CRM project, to facilitate communications between regional sales offices and the corporate system. When new application components are needed, these could be written as web services, and perhaps an ESB could be brought in as a way to link them up at some nodes. A repository that is used to hold configuration information could be extended to start holding metadata related tot he various components.
Once the ecosystem is more or less in place, as new projects are developed the functionality can be built into hopefully reusable services – in essence slipping in SOA services in on a one-by-one basis. This is where (with luck) the virus really starts to multiply, until it is a fully fledged SOA strategy. The idea is to start showing proof-points for the SOA concept in isolated cases where some of the viral SOA implementation is starting to make new projects quicker, reduce maintenance costs etc. Also, the viral approach has now reduced the entry barrier to SOA by sneaking in a number of the licensed components and necessary skills.
Of course, this is not the only way of getting SOA in – more later…