SOA is Anything But Dead in Financial Services'
Insurance Experts' Forum, December 20, 2010
That's the title of a new Forrester survey report, put together by analysts Jost Hoppermann, Mike Gilpin and Sander Rose. In the survey, they find SOA practices are actually widespread across financial services firms, with more than three out of four in some stage of SOA-based development. If anything, Hoppermann and his co-authors say, many firms are anxious to get going with SOA a little too quickly, and thus risk falling on their feet.
It's interesting how once a certain idea takes hold in the market, it gets misinterpreted and blown all out of proportion. For example, Anne Manes, a highly respected analyst with the Burton Group (now part of Gartner), delivered the “SOA is Dead” credo in January 2009.
Everyone grabbed onto that “SOA is Dead” line, and in the eyes of many, the end had come to this noble experiment in making applications and data available across silos and enterprise walls. However, that line was merely the preamble to Anne's post, which also included the phrase “Long Live Services.”
That's what it's all about—the delivery of business technology services when are where they are needed, regardless of underlying formats, protocols or operating systems. You call it SOA, you can call it cloud, you can call it whatever you want.
Anne, herself, will tell you she is actually a great supporter of SOA, and feels this is the only way to go with IT in the coming years. The problem isn't the philosophy of SOA itself, it was with the way many vendors, consultants and organizations were attempting to launch “SOA programs” that really service-oriented very little—hence many feelings of failure when an “SOA program” failed to delivery lightening-speed agility.
And, also important to note, SOA is a set of best practices and philosophy, not a specific product that can be plugged in overnight. By the way, Anne was one of the authors of the SOA Manifesto that clearly made this case. (Yours truly also was part of that effort, by the way.)
Fortunately, as Forrester found out, it appears that many financial services firms—and it can be assumed that insurance companies have a similar take—continue to take a smart approach to SOA.
“Financial services firms have to cope with business needs such as delivering business flexibility to remain competitive in changing markets and reducing time-to-market while at the same time managing cost,” Hoppermann and company observe. “In addition, they already need to consider those drivers that will shape the future — making an even stronger focus on business agility and flexibility mandatory. In this context, service-oriented architecture — as a key enabler — and business services are crucial building blocks of future application landscapes in financial services — and consequently for related transformation projects.”
Additionally, SOA isn't just some pilot project sitting in application developers' offices. Nineteen percent say a good-sized chunk of their application portfolio (more than a third) is already service-enabled, and 62% say this will be case within two years. A whole lot of service-orienting going on.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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