SOA failing to bridge business-IT gap

Research has revealed that service oriented architecture (SOA) is turning out to be IT's "great white hope", failing to bridge the gap of understanding with business.

The survey, carried out by PMP Research, pours cold water on the idea suggested by some quarters in the IT industry that SOA can provide a common language for both business and IT people.

The survey sponsored by online software and services guide, the Evaluation Centre, draws its conclusions from the fact that the majority of business managers questioned have little or no understanding of SOA and the benefits it can bring.

Over one in four (42 per cent) of respondents think that the business has 'little understanding' of SOA, while 16 per cent have 'none at all'. And only 10 per cent think the business understands SOA 'quite well,' where 22 per cent think there is a 'medium amount' of knowledge.

The survey also found 31 per cent of those interviewed have started to design and implement systems based on SOA principles, with a further 16 per cent in the planning stage. But this still leaves 16 per cent planning to look at it in the future and 23 per cent having no plans to use SOA.

The research said: "SOA is becoming the great white hope in designing more modular and flexible IT systems."

But the need to consolidate and integrate disparate information systems is still a major challenge for 88 per cent of companies surveyed, where 43 per cent are currently engaged in an enterprise-wide integration programme. Emerging beyond this is a need to link to external, third party systems run by clients, suppliers and partners, which is considered by 34 per cent as 'important' and 30 per cent as 'very important'.

Those pursuing a SOA strategy cite following its practices consistently (73 per cent) as a key challenge, while defining and creating appropriate SOA services is an issue for 60 per cent. Making the business case for SOA is also a challenge for nearly half (49 per cent), while the difficulty of managing a mix of third-party suppliers is cited by 42 per cent, with system security causing concern for 29 per cent.

Martin Rice, chief executive of application development and legacy migration engine vendor, Erudine told IT PRO that SOA is often misunderstood as a methodology applied to individual projects when it actually provides a framework for the ongoing evolution of IT-based services used by the business.

"Services to the business evolves and never ends," he said. "When people talk about an SOA project it's tantamount to putting lipstick on a pig. SOA is framework for defining a problem in a standard way to fit a business case."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.