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SOAservicesgartnerdisillusionmentBurtonAnne Thomas Manes 6 Jan 2009 2:30 PM
Is SOA Dead? by kvandersluis

Burton Group analyst and SOA guru Anne Thomas Manes recently blogged that “SOA is Dead ”, referring to the disillusionment and even disgust some feel towards the over-hyped term.  But she was referring just to the term SOA, not the concept itself.  On the contrary, service orientation has seemed to find firm roots in diverse areas such as mashups, RIA, BPM, cloud computing, and others.

I completely agree that service orientation is here to stay.  But I don’t agree that the term SOA is going away any time soon.  We are in the typical “trough of disillusionment” Gartner speaks about, as a huge wave of over-hype sets high expectations for a technology.  Industry buys into the vision, then slowly comes to realize it is not a silver bullet.  Hard work is still to be done to extract the benefits of the new technology.  When so many people express disappointment in a technology, negative momentum builds, and soon a consensus develops that the new technology is a failure at best, and evil at worst.  Such is the case with SOA.

To be sure, some technologies never fully emerge from the trough.  Artificial Intelligence and Object Databases are two examples that never achieved wide-spread adoption after huge early stage hype.  Others fare much better, like EAI and even Java.  I remember the early Java days working at MCI circa 1997.  Despite huge investments including the best consultants Sun had to offer, projects were massively under-performing, or even failing altogether.  But the gradual maturation of the platform and supporting tools pulled Java from the trough of disillusionment to eventually make it the most popular programming language ever.

Anne concludes by saying that we need to move away from the term SOA and simply use the term “services”, since that is the core foundation of the concept.  I think that’s fine for the time being.  In fact, I’ve recently found myself using the term “service orientation” instead of SOA anyway.  But I believe this is a temporary diversion.  Eventually, market noise will settle down, and we in the software industry will finally develop a consensus on what this concept really is.  When that happens, I believe, it will mark the emergence from the trough of disillusionment, and the return to calling this concept “SOA” once again, without fear of scorn.

See my follow-on post here.

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