• June 28, 2007
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Gartner Details 9 SOA Pitfalls To Avoid

Organizations that embark on service-oriented architecture (SOA) initiatives aimed at enterprisewide deployments must pay equal attention to both technical and governance issues, according to a new Gartner research report. Although the risks of SOA project failure are initially associated with bad technical implementations, risks of failure due to insufficient governance are becoming increasingly significant. "Actual implementations are showing that SOA requires more investment in service-design governance and application integration best practice than current levels in most organizations," says Paolo Malinverno, a Gartner research vice president based in the U.K. "At the beginning, risks of project failures are small, but as an SOA project develops and expands, the risk curve increases." For this reason, Malinverno says, businesses shouldn't think of SOA without establishing a set of governance processes around service definition, implementation, and maintenance. However, enthusiasm for SOA and its anticipated benefits results in some companies taking risky shortcuts in establishing robust governance, service development disciplines, and staffing. By 2010, less than 25 percent of large companies will have the sufficient technical and organizational skills necessary to deliver an enterprisewide SOA initiative, according to the report. The report also suggests the following technical areas are where mistakes are being made in the planning stages of SOA implementations:
  • Underestimating the technical complexity of a large-scale SOA project;
  • Bad selection of application infrastructure components (enterprise service bus, orchestration, and adapters);
  • Insufficient validation of the SOA-enabling technical infrastructure (for example, no proof of concept and no stress tests);
  • SOA infrastructure, services, and consumer applications are insufficiently instrumented for security, management, and troubleshooting.
"In order to avoid the most common technical implementation mistakes, we recommend that organizations design their SOA technical infrastructure on the basis of their real functional and nonfunctional (i.e., performance, availability, and security) requirements and not on the basis of theoretic models. Selecting proven and referenced SOA infrastructure products is also vital," Massimo Pezzini, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, writes in the report. Organizations must also architect their SOA infrastructure so that it can be easily monitored and provide all the information required to debug SOA applications. "Testing is critical. Twenty-five percent of the effort in a SOA project should be dedicated to this activity," Pezzini writes. Technical risks should not be underestimated either. "The ease-of-use of modern SOA-enabling tools hides the technical complexity of implementing a reliable SOA technology platform," Malinverno says, "but developing a reliable, scalable, and manageable SOA infrastructure requires a level of technical command that few organizations have been able to develop." The report also included the following list of organizational errors companies should avoid:
  • Overlooking governance;
  • Thinking an SOA project should be organized just like any other application-development project;
  • Not anticipating service-number explosions in a maturing SOA environment;
  • Giving up on an integration competency center or SOA center of excellence;
  • Outsourcing architects (or not having them at all).
From an organizational point of view, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to governance, Malinverno says. Organizations need to ensure that their governance arrangements are not too sophisticated and disproportional to their company size, organization, and culture. "Too little or too much governance will kill an SOA project," Malinverno says. "Companies need just enough governance."

Related articles: CRM Vendors Get SOA Happy Leading CRM vendors are looking to build out SOA to increase the flexibility of solutions; enterprises slowly but steadily will integrate SOA. SOA Comes at a Cost Companies look to develop best practices around the business processes and technology changes required with SOA. Sending Out an SOS for SOA Help Enterprises will need third-party assistance as they continue to migrate to SOA. Viewpoint: SOA Challenges in CRM The promise of modular, reusable services connected seamlessly into larger applications--is it just hype? Salesforce.com Takes SOA Offsite By hosting their SOA applications offsite, companies could do away with the usual in-house development of architecture, says Salesforce chairman and CEO.
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