Gartner analysts tackle enterprise SOA

Gartner analysts tackle enterprise SOA

During a Composite Application Seminar hosted by InterSystems this week Gartner explained the importance of moving towards an enterprise wide service-oriented-architecture (SOA), and the accompanying challenges both end users and vendors face.

Gartner analyst Massimo Pezzini listed the reasons why organisations are currently adopting SOA throughout their infrastructure. These included: cost reduction, escalating integration, business process management needs, the growing maturity of enabling technology, the availability of best practice and the quest for business agility.

However the “pressure of packaged application vendors” is one factor that will cause all vendors to have no choice but to adopt SOA enterprise wide, Pezzini said.

In five years time, every application vendor will have turned its portfolio into an SOA sector,” Pezzini added, explaining that this means even if the time is not right for organisations to adopt SOA wide architecture now, they will have to by 2012
The application vendors are enabling their applications in this way in order to leverage business process management, composite applications, and for other “very solid business reasons,” Pezzini said. But when doing this, the vendors face challenges, such as how to deal with legacy applications and spaghetti code, he added.

Currently vendors are dealing with such challenges by creating SOA architecture in front of their spaghetti code to provide a standardised service wrapped in a familiar interface, which benefits the users because it simplifies integration, Pezzini explained.

However, this strategy will change gradually, Pezzini said, adding “starting from next year some vendors will begin to release new functionality built in true SOA architecture.” Although because transition from spaghetti applications to SOA architecture will take vendors a very long time, during the next five years packaged application vendors will operate a combination of “truly new business functionality implemented in service oriented fashion alongside with traditional interfaces,” added Pezzini.

After this “hybrid SOA architecture” stage, full SOA enabled functionality will be adopted by vendors, Pezzini said.

Organisations moving towards SOA architecture face similar challenges to the vendors. Pezzini gave examples such as immature standards, complex software infrastructure that needs to be replaced, and a lack of governance.

However, the most “major inhibitor” is the amount of change in the company culture that needs to be instigated, Pezzini said. “SOA is about sharing. It is about sharing processes, sharing applications, sharing infrastructure, sharing services and sharing data and it is very difficult to share when you have budgets allocated in silos,” he added

“In most organisations it is relatively easy to get started but it is very difficult to spread the scale of implementation because it is difficult to manage culture change,” Pezzini added.