Analyst cuts through the hype around SOA, smartcards

Ovum research director Gary Barnett this week warned IT managers about committing to the nirvana of utility computing.

Despite all the hype, Barnett said there is still no real pricing model for this "concept" with vendors "making it up" as they go along.

"Vendors are quick to sell the automated, lights-out data centre where a man and his dog are the only living thing," he said.

"But this ideal is still about two generations away as customers are still undertaking server consolidation."

Barnett said too often vendors "talk about the peak of Everest, but not the climb".

"It is the same with service oriented architecture (SOA), there are too many bullshit terms like ESB," he said.

"Vendors talk about the technology, but not how to actually do it by providing methodology."

Barnett said consolidation in the industry means there are fewer vendors, pointing out that IBM and Microsoft account for 35 percent of all software sold in the world.

"That's a third of the market. Most of the software sold today is provided by the top 10 companies," he added.

Barnett also took a swipe at vendors who over-use the word "innovation".

"I find myself signing NDAs (non disclosure agreements) in my discussions with vendors only to hear that their great new strategy is about innovation; everyone seems to be competing on this," he said.

But what does innovation really mean?

"It is only worth innovating if that's what customers want," Barnett said.

Cutting through the hype, Barnett said there is too much fuss about smartcards.

"Smartcards are like RFID, just an infrastructure technology that isn't really going to change anyone's life," he said.

"Sure it helps with identity, but it won't change the world. RFID was over-hyped too and all it does is make old-fashioned processes more efficient."

On the topic of IT and business alignment, Barnett said IT needs to get back in its box and serve the business.

He said IT has to earn the right to be more than a cost-cutting tool.

"IT doesn't run the business; IT people are only second to accountants in how badly they run a business," Barnett said.

"Business doesn't care about the merits of DB2 over Oracle; this is why IT needs to learn to sell itself and explain its value."

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