It is hard to avoid service oriented architecture. SOA is one of those developments that the whole IT industry is talking about.
Leading suppliers all have an SOA product line, but it is not obvious whether the products being sold are really always as leading edge as they are made out to be.
Many companies are fed-up with being expected to join the latest IT bandwagon. They already bought into client-server computing, and when that proved hugely costly, they were sold thin clients and enterprise application integration (EAI). One wonders how many successful EAI projects were rolled out. Not many. It was costly and too difficult to maintain.
So the industry moved on a bit: the internet and HTML showed the value of global standards and this led to the concept of web services. As he explains in his Computer Weekly podcast interview, Andy Mulholland, global chief technology officer at Capgemini, believes that SOA makes IT integration easier because it deals in standards. But is it just EAI by another name?
Perhaps not. Since IT functions built using standards can easily be made available to other applications, SOA promotes the idea of reuse. Code reuse cuts software development time and should improve quality, since the reused code can be tested in many applications. In fact, a measure of SOA's success is how much reuse is achieved.
One cannot predict how long SOA will last, but what is certain is that systems built using SOA today will be maintained by IT departments for many years to come. However, the more code is reused, the greater the impact of a flaw. SOA may well be the medicine to cure all manner of IT ills, but IT directors may be battling with SOA's legacy in years to come.
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