SOA gathers pace in the enterprise

Although still in the nascent phase of its adoption by corporate IT, take-up of service oriented architecture is becoming more widespread among businesses, according the Computer Weekly CIO Index.

Although still in the nascent phase of its adoption by corporate IT, take-up of service oriented architecture is becoming more widespread among businesses, according the Computer Weekly CIO Index.

Our second quarterly survey revealed that SOA is now implemented at a departmental level in 16% of businesses, compared with 9% when the survey was launched in April. And 19% of businesses are piloting SOA technologies, compared to 15% in the first set of findings.

SOA is the latest in a long line of technologies designed to help IT managers attain the holy grail of enterprise application integration. It allows IT staff to publish the functions of an application as a web service, letting other applications make use of those functions.

This can benefit the business by integrating information from different applications, thereby giving selected users a better view of how their organisation operates. Or it can simply reduce overheads by cutting duplicated functions from a group of applications.

This latter objective was the goal of P&O Ferries when it embarked in March on a pilot SOA project it believes will pay for itself within two years.

Applications designed to perform tourist reservations, freight booking and passenger check-in had much in common, P&O said. "Each of the three applications has its own pricing system, ship inventory management, sailing services and credit card authorisation. There was a huge amount of duplication," the firm said.

But despite the industry hype around SOA, many IT managers are wary of the technology. Thirty five per cent have taken no action on SOA, compared with 47% in April.

IT decision makers are taking a similarly cautious approach to other technologies that are relatively new to business.

With multi­million-pound backing from IBM and Hewlett-Packard, open source technologies, including the Linux operating system, had been expected to make major inroads into business IT. However, growth in their use has been modest.

Open source software is now used at a departmental level or across the company by 24% of businesses. This compares with 19% in April.

However, voice over IP, a technology that promises a radical reduction in telephony overheads, as well as services such as unified messaging, is making better headway.

The latest CIO Index survey found it is used by 44% of businesses at least at a departmental level, with a further 17% undertaking pilot studies. This compares with a deployment level of 40% in our April survey.

Microsoft once believed the pen-based interface of the tablet PC would create the same sort of revolution in the way people interact with computers as the point-and-click graphical user interface.

However, IT departments are proving slow to adopt the technology. Uptake has stagnated, with adoption staying at about 20% and piloting at 18%. The proportion of those reviewing the potential of the technology has fallen to 12% from 17%.

About the Computer Weekly CIO index

The CIO Index is Computer Weekly's quarterly online survey of IT directors in the Computer Weekly 500 Club. The research is conducted by our parent company Reed Business Information's market research department, strictly adhering to the Market Research Society's code of conduct.

In the technology adoption report, respondents graded their replies to a statement according to five categories: full deployment across the business, used in one or more departments, pilot studies, reviewing potential and no action taken. Between 129 and 132 IT directors responded to each question.

In addition to tracking technology adoption in UK businesses, the CIO Index highlights trends and provides analysis of key metrics for IT expenditure and the business readiness of emerging technologies.


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