SOA like any other term is good only when used in the right context. When used with IT people it allows you to communicate meaning in a condensed form. When used with business people or CEO it is bad term, because it does convey any meaning to them.

Business people will invest money in projects that either deliver ROI or solve important business problem. When IT people go to the business with a proposal for SOA project, they are asking money to replace the existing IT infrastructure with a vague promise of future ROI. That is not good enough for most businesses even in a good time, much less in today environment.

When I started my career as software developer, Borland came up with great suites of software developer tools, Turbo C, Turbo Pascal, etc. They were about to overtake Microsoft in this market. Borland were one of the first to jump on the object-oriented bandwagon. Unfortunately they made the decision to rewrite all their tools using object-oriented technology. By the time they did that Microsoft was a lightning years ahead of them and Borland lost most of the market share they had.

We should learn from this lesson and not kill the business with expenses that do not produce immediate ROI or provide competitive advantage. We should use SOA to deliver business value.

It is our term and we should keep it for ourselves. After all even we cannot agree on a single SOA definition. I see ‘big SOA’ and ‘little SOA’ terms proliferating and that is troubling. If SOA is an architectural approach you either use or not. There is nothing wrong in applying it iteratively. A company may be in an early phase of SOA adoption, but I would not call that ‘little SOA’.

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