Forrester: SOA is alive and well

New Forrester data shows that most enterprises are still doing SOA, and happily

It's been a little hard of late to find references to SOA (service-oriented architecture), the buzz-phrase that once saturated the IT industry but in recent years has succumbed to "cloud computing." But SOA remains alive and relevant, according to a new Forrester Research report.

SOA refers to a software design approach where systems are composed of various and sometimes shared "services." The point is better interoperability and the ability to save time and money through the reuse of code.

Seventy-one percent of enterprises that responded to a recent Forrester survey said they are already using SOA or will be by the end of 2011, the report by analyst Randy Heffner and others states. Nearly half of small and medium-sized companies said the same. That is "a respectable number considering that SMBs tend to be slower in adopting major technology directions," the analysts wrote.

Moreover, companies are happy with how their SOA efforts have turned out. "Forrester measures SOA satisfaction by whether it has provided enough benefit that an organization will be expanding its use of SOA. By this measure, 77 percent of enterprise respondents and 81 percent of SMB respondents are satisfied," the report states.

Telecoms, utilities, financial institutions and insurance companies are using SOA the most, with about 80 percent penetration in enterprises and 60 percent in SMBs across those categories, it adds.

North America and Europe have about the same level of SOA penetration, at roughly 60 percent. But 81 percent of North American companies expressed satisfaction with their efforts, compared to 73 percent of European ones.

Ultimately, the data shows that companies that haven't considered SOA should do so, according to the analysts.

"Many well-meaning people in the industry cast SOA as simply a way to do application integration, thus making it seem irrelevant to anyone whose integration problems seem to be under control," they wrote. "Others make it sound like SOA takes a huge investment to get started. Neither of these perspectives is true."

Companies should treat SOA as a "strategic business investment in industry best practices for software design, and you can start small and evolve toward SOA maturity."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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