SOA Finally Living Up to its Hype, Survey Shows

Service-enablement might finally be living up to its hype according to new research from programming consultancy Evans Data Corp. The company found that nearly half of the 400 Web Services programmers surveyed have already participated in successful SOA development efforts, and that SOA development efforts themselves are finishing on time—for the most part.

Service-enablement and service-oriented architecture (SOA) have garnered somewhat mixed reputations, in part—skeptics grouse—because they promise more than they can deliver, ignore obvious people and process problems, and are imperfectly understood by executives and business stakeholders (who tend to focus more on the promise than on the feasibility of pervasive service-enablement).

Evans Data’s 2006 Web Services Development Survey, conducted in December, might not do much to allay the concerns (much less quell the grousing) of SOA skeptics, but it should bolster the case of SOA boosters. Evans Data found that among programmers who have experience with SOA-related projects, more than 40 percent say they’re able to complete a typical SOA development effort within 3 months. While that’s probably not as high a rate as most project managers would like, it’s still more than twice the year-ago percentage. What’s more, greater than 60 percent of all SOA projects are finishing within 6 months. That’s not a bad tally by any measure—especially when one takes into account the traditionally high rate of failure among enterprise development projects.

“We are now moving from the SOA pilot stage into full live deployments, taking advantage of the reuse of frameworks and services thus driving the much improved productivity curve,” said Evans Data president John Andrews, in a statement. “This adoption highlights the proven benefits that both the IT and line of business organizations achieve through their SOA efforts.”

What’s behind these verifiable increases in developer productivity? For starters, Evans Data says, organizations are adopting .Net and Java for SOA in nearly equal proportions: By 2009, the researcher estimates, two out of three SOA developers will be running most of their applications in managed code. How’s that for momentum?

In addition, half of developers working on Web services are currently using Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX)—or plan to do so—over the coming 12 months. This is a slight improvement from just six months ago (45 percent), Evans Data notes.

Elsewhere, the number of companies with 40 or more Web services in production has doubled over the last two years. That number is expected to double again over the next 12 months, the researchers say.

As for SOA challenges, most companies cite the difficulty of determining ROI for SOA projects as the foremost challenge associated with SOA development and deployment efforts. The second-greatest challenge, not surprisingly, is obtaining organizational buy-in.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor for Enterprise Systems. He can be reached at [email protected].