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Insights from Reg readers on SOA

Findings from the latest reader study

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Reg Reader Studies When we asked about Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) in the last big reader research study, we weren't sure what kind of response we would get. We knew that in some quarters SOA had been discussed as mostly vendor hype, and we also suspected that stories of widespread adoption were probably a little exaggerated.

As it turns out, the uptake of SOA does appear to be relatively modest at this point in time, but that didn't stop us flushing out over 1,300 respondents who were keen to give us their views, one in 10 of which had extensive experience and in-depth expertise from actual implementations.

This got the Reg's number crunching team, aka Freeform Dynamics, all excited, so they disappeared into a darkened room with their Excel spreadsheets and pizza delivery menu and proceeded to analyse the results.

One of the things they found was that the consensus among those with knowledge and experience of SOA is that it is certainly not all vendor hype. Experienced adopters are able to discuss specific practicalities and tangible benefits in some detail.

Having said this, the general view is that SOA is not a radical new approach either. The best way to think about it is as an evolution of ideas and practices that have been around for a while - component-based development, distributed encapsulated services, mapping of IT services onto business processes, and so on.

The thing that's changed is that everything has been pulled together into a coherent set of principles that are now enabled by open standards and the right kind of tooling and middleware, all of which have been challenges in the past.

Honing in on the benefits, SOA savvy Reg readers confirmed the theory that the approach can boost the level of reuse and streamline both the development and the maintenance process. This translates to increased efficiency and cost savings.

However, those with experience put more emphasis on the ability of SOA to allow a more rapid and flexible response to changing requirements and new demands hitting IT from the business.

A major benefit was also highlighted with regard to communication between IT and the business. As "service speak" is a language much more familiar to business people than "IT speak", the adoption of SOA can ease the dialogue between the two camps, even allowing the relationship to move from the reactive request/response mindset to more of a proactive collaborative approach. Many readers provided anecdotal feedback to illustrate this.

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