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SOA's 'Lack of ROI' Cited in Report

A benchmarking report that tracks how well service-oriented architecture (SOA) fits with return on investment (ROI) found an underwhelming correlation so far, based on a survey response. Of 106 enterprises surveyed, just 37 percent indicated a positive ROI from SOA.

The report was conducted by analyst firm Nucleus Research in conjunction with marketing search firm KnowledgeStorm.

An SOA approach promises to reuse code and expose a company's legacy applications as services. It's often portrayed as a way to save IT costs and meet business objectives at the same time, although it sometimes requires adding middleware and additional IT expertise to carry it out.

The report did find that developer productivity increased by an average of 28 percent with an SOA in place. However, that increased productivity does "not warrant broad SOA deployment," according to Nucleus Research in its press release.

SOA's "historical lack of ROI" is keeping it from being broadly deployed, according to David O'Connell, senior analyst at Nucleus Research.

O'Connell cited some less direct barriers to adoption as well, such as that "developers often view themselves as creators of code and applications and shun SOA because it forces them to reuse code generated by others."

Funding is another hindrance to SOA adoption. IT personnel need training to gain SOA expertise. Companies may need to buy middleware for the registries and repositories used in SOA's subscribe-and-publish model.

Nonetheless, some companies have seen benefits from SOA, particularly in areas such as improving business processes, portal development, data management and partner integration. SOA adoption has blossomed in certain industries, with 62 percent of healthcare companies and 48 percent of materials companies using SOAs, according to Nucleus Research.

Still, O'Connell portrayed SOA adoption as something less than bullish, and he downplayed marketing efforts that suggest otherwise.

"There are a handful of SOA success stories out there -- but not many. If, and when, the vendor community reallocates some of their SOA marketing funds and uses them to build the application layer, then we'll see widespread SOA adoption and reuse," he stated in the press release.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.