I read a great blog post by Anne Thomas Manes of the Burton Group there other day, where she proudly announced that SOA is Dead. The cause of its demise: the economic recession.
I am an architect by trade so I am certainly an advocate of a service orientated architecture and the benefits of a loosely coupled, extensible system. Where I struggled with SOA in the past, when working with customers in a previous life prior to Salesforce.com, was the funding of architecture which was not directly tied to a business driver, or more specifically, did not have a business sponsor. Manes, refers to this notion when she says the acronym got in the way, or as a former colleague described an organization ate too much I.T. candy.
So is Manes correct; should we focus on the services?
If you ask me, the answer is yes and then some….
Myself and others including Marc Benioff, our CEO, who is quoted in the article, agree. Why buy a server and a piece of software when you can subscribe to it for a fraction of the cost? Not surprising really—Salesforce.com is all about software-as-a-service, but I don't think we have seen anything yet.
As the cloud computing space continues to mature I believe we will see a broader introduction of services that do not only provide CRM functionality, Talent Management, Sales Compensation and so on to end users in the form of application-level services. The impact of services will go much deeper. We are already seeing platforms and infrastructure-level services such Force.com, Amazon EC2, Facebook and more leading the charge. What this build-out of different types of services means, which in my opinion was SOAs achilles heel, is that every service in this new environment has a tangible and measurable impact on the business.
Whether your business driver is infrastructure scalability and hardware cost reduction, increased market penetration through highly targeted marketing campaigns that leverage the massive social networks in place, or building your entire business on a platform built as a service from day one, the new service-enabled economy is here — there is no need to wait for a government stimulus package!