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I had the privilege to speak at the IDC Event in Buenos Aries last week on Socially Oriented Architecture and then visit some companies who have or are about to invest in SOA infrastructure - in one form or another. While the speaking engagement was fun and there were loads of questions, it was the visits to the companies that were enlightening because the questions in Argentina are very similar to the ones that I hear in the US.
As I was visiting the various companies, I noticed how many questions were NOT about the details of the technology - in this case the ESB - but about how the deployment maps into their existing organizational structure. This means that many people use ESBs/SOA to essentially optimize what they are doing today, and as such the benefits of this must be limited by the organization that owns and implements the SOA. What I did not hear is how SOA changed their organization(s); in fact I only heard this question asked by a handful of people in all my years working with SOA technology.
This got me thinking... When will we really know that a successful SOA implementation is achieved? Sure, if the SOA matches the current organization, then essentially the existing systems and processes can be optimized, but the maximum potential appears to end there. If, however, SOA changes an organization in a bigger, more fundamental way, the chance for even greater benefits and success can be achieved.
Perhaps most successful SOA implementations come as part of an organizational shift as well as a technology shift. This obviously means that the biggest reward comes with the biggest risk, and I guess more chance of failure is also possible.
SOA What? Does your SOA project change the world or just your immediate surroundings? And, if the organizational scope creep happens, can you and your SOA cope? Because, lets face it, scope creep will happen...
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