SOA Adoption Trends: Executive Summary

February, 2007

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is the latest advance in the evolution of software development methods. Although the promised benefits of SOA are great, nearly half of all organizations have taken no steps toward adopting the technology, not even preliminary research. Based on a 2006 survey of nearly 200 senior IT executives, the full version of this report analyzes trends in SOA adoption rates by organization size and industry sector, and why uptake of the technology has been slower than many observers had hoped. It discusses the categories of SOA adoption and the reasons why SOA is being deployed more rapidly in certain types of firms. It also provides recommendations for maximizing the benefits of this technology for end-user organizations and IT service providers in light of these findings.

This Research Byte is an executive summary of our full report, Service-Oriented Architecture: Adoption Trends in 2007.

What Is SOA?
Essentially, SOA is a better way to develop software, by using the basic building blocks of “services.” Services are self-contained, stateless business functions, each of which accepts requests and returns responses through a well-defined, standard interface.

For example, a company might build one service to perform the function of checking whether a customer is over his or her credit limit, another service to retrieve a customer’s shipping address, and yet another to display a map of a street address. Each of these services might be performed by a different piece of software running on a different computer, some even outside the company itself. Some might be built to fulfill the requirements of a specific application, others might be general-purpose services, and others might have been originally built for another application.

In an SOA, each service operates autonomously without any awareness that other services exist. Communication among the services is accomplished using standard protocols. The services are without memory–they do not remember previous transactions. The services are also discoverable by means of a common services registry.

SOA is not dependent upon any particular programming language, and a service written in one language should be able to interact with another service written in another language, assuming they both adhere to open standards.

Within an SOA, a number of services may be combined to support a business process. Applications that are assembled from a collection of such services are called “composite applications.” Building new systems by means of composite applications allows organizations to react quickly to changes in business processes, increasing agility.

SOA is the continuation of the concept of “loose coupling,” a principle that has a long history in software engineering. A software item that exhibits loose coupling performs a single function, independent of other functions, with a well-defined interface. This is the concept inherent in the rise of structured or modular programming in the 1970s and object-orientation in the 1980s. The rise of SOA in the early part of this decade is a further evolution of this concept, greatly aided by the introduction of open standards, such as XML and SOAP.

SOA provides benefits to organizations by better enabling integration of disparate systems, increasing software reuse, and by allowing new applications to be developed more quickly.

SOA Adoption Trends
By all accounts, SOA is still early in its adoption cycle, as shown in Figure 1. Only about 19% of all organizations have SOA in place, of which 12% plan to increase their use of SOA and 7% have no further plans. Eleven percent are in the midst of piloting or implementing SOA and another 22% are researching the use of this technology.

SOA Adoption Fig1 - SOA Adoption Trends: Executive Summary

The full version of this report discusses SOA adoption rate trends by industry sector and organization size, as well as some of the reasons for the slow uptake. It also discusses the different categories of SOA adoption and the reasons why certain types of firms are deploying SOA more rapidly. It also provides recommendations for end-user organizations considering deployment of the technology as well as recommendations for IT service providers that seek to increase the effectiveness of the efforts in the SOA services market.

February 2007

This Research Byte is an executive summary of our report on this subject, Service-Oriented Architecture: Adoption Trends in 2007. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website at (click for pricing).