Companies who want to shrink IT and maintenance costs, eliminate internal IT complexities and produce higher quality IT services with reduced risk should consider a service orientated architecture (SOA). Saul Cunningham, principal SOA at Oracle Australia and New Zealand said the Aussie "wait-and-see" adage won't cut it if IT shops want to keep up with local and international competitors, particularly as the notion of IT-as-a-service takes hold.
How can businesses determine if they need a SOA?
Businesses need to take into account their existing technology architecture, and current and future IT requirements. They need to ask themselves 'can I rapidly change my IT systems to meet changing business conditions?' If the answer is no, then they should consider SOA.
The best triggers for SOA are constant industry change, industry consolidation, the customization of common-services platforms, multi-channel applications and business to business service networks.
How can SOA provide ROI to the business?
This is one of the most frequent questions that we get from our customers. A substantial ROI can be secured by faster and cheaper deployment of new IT services to the business. SOA-based services are easily reused and can be rapidly assembled into new, composite applications which result in reduced IT costs and a lowered maintenance budget. The ability to re-use IT services reduces the internal complexity of an IT environment. Businesses also reap the rewards of higher quality IT services through multiple testing cycles from different service customers, lower integration costs, and reduced risk.
Maja Tibbling, lead enterprise architect at Californian freight company Con-way said "SOA is not something the business directly cares about [so] you have to identify the value that they care about, and that is the value you will sell."
How important is executive buy-in and how can SOA be sold to CEOs?
Executive buy-in is crucial. While it is true that SOA helps with new application development, integration, legacy modernization and more, the business case is far easier to make if it is undertaken for reasons of growth, value creation and cost control. The business understands the idea of improving shareholder value which takes the form of revenue growth and operating cost reduction delivered by business responsiveness, consolidation and modernization; working capital efficiency from process improvement; and fixed capital efficiency obtained by sweating fixed assets more effectively.
How can SOA evangelists convince business groups to change their operations?
SOA evangelists shouldn't have to convince business groups to change their operations; they should convince them that SOA will enable IT to service their business operations in an enhanced fashion. SOA allows the business to easily and inexpensively assemble and disassemble new applications that exist across operating platforms and proprietary applications. The underlying framework will change the current role of IT by letting business managers create the IT functionality they need to support business initiatives. Their minds will change once they learn that they are being empowered by IT, rather than being held hostage by isolated systems and a lack of interoperability. Demonstrating early successes will help to demystify SOA and make its benefits available to the wider business.