SOA reaches C-level, survey indicates

Executive survey shows SOA moving from departmental pilot projects to CIO-sponsored projects with million dollar budgets and defined business goals, but financial justification remains a struggle.

CIOs and CTOs are the leading sponsors of SOA projects as the service-oriented approach moves from departmental pilots to business applications with clearly defined financial goals, according to a survey by GCR Custom Research LLC, formerly Gartner Custom Research.

IT, and architects in particular, must know which tools to use to solve which business problems, otherwise SOA initiatives will risk becoming stalled.
Jason Bloomberg
Senior AnalystZapThink LLC

However, cost justification for SOA projects remains a good news/bad news story, with more than 60 percent of executives surveyed reporting no problem with it, but almost 40 percent still struggling with how to justify SOA expenditures, according to BEA Systems Inc., which released the survey this past week.

"Lack of confidence" in a "big payoff" was cited by 54 percent of the executives hitting cost justification road blocks. Other obstacles cited by those having trouble included "ROI not strong enough" according to 42 percent, while 34 percent also said they were "unable to build a case," as well as 31 percent of that group saying they were running into skepticism at the C-level. (Those surveyed were able to select more than one problem area, making the total percentages exceed 100.)

In the announcement of the survey, Bruce Graham, senior vice president, worldwide consulting services at BEA, said these problem areas indicate executive need guidance in building a case for SOA budgeting.

For those executive getting funding for projects in the survey, which included more than 150 "decision-makers and influencers" implementing SOA strategies in the US, Canada, UK, France and Germany, 59 percent of the money was allocated for business solutions, 22 percent was specifically earmarked for SOA and 19 percent was redirected from other sources. The 59 percent for business solutions is a key indicator of how SOA is now viewed by executives, according to Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC.

"When 59 percent of the budget comes from business solutions," the analyst said, "the question is no longer 'here's SOA, how do we justify it,' but rather 'here are the business problems, how do we solve them.' IT shops must understand that SOA provides additional tools in the toolbelt, but IT, and architects in particular, must know which tools to use to solve which business problems, otherwise SOA initiatives will risk becoming stalled."

CIOs and CTOs surveyed appear to recognize that highly skilled developers and architects are needed to make SOA work. In SOA projects being led by the executives in the survey, more than 30 percent of the cost is going to "re-skilling existing staff," topped only by 40 percent being spent on "software infrastructure." The survey indicated hiring consultants and systems integrators also took a 30 percent chunk of the overall costs, which would appear to be good news for firms in the professional services business.

For more information
SOA after the hype

Why SOA needs IT management

In announcing the survey results, BEA said the companies in the survey, included businesses with more than $1 billion in annualized revenue who have deployed SOA, and thus were basing their responses on real world experience.

Bloomberg said the results of the survey confirm what his analyst firm is seeing as SOA matures in the North American and European markets.

When it comes to spending money on SOA-related technology the survey indicates that the enterprise services bus (ESB) and security software are tied. The survey completed this fall, showed the following spending patterns:

  • ESB - 24 percent
  • Security - 24 percent
  • Data services - 19 percent
  • Portal - 16 percent
  • Business Process Management (BPM) - 12 percent
  • Registry - 5 percent

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