SOA ROI proving elusive, claims Gartner

Despite maturity, a global survey has found the time taken to achieve a return on investment is still proving a barrier to the adoption and success of SOA.

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A new survey of service oriented architecture (SOA) users has found 40 per cent do not measure how long it takes to achieve a return on their investment (ROI).

Gartner, which carried out the survey among enterprises from around the world, also highlighted the fact that 50 per cent of those who had not yet adopted SOA technologies did so because they could not articulate and demonstrate the business value of it.

Massimo Pezzini, research vice president and fellow at Gartner, said that many companies were approaching SOA projects with excessive expectations and little awareness of the effort, resources and time needed to achieve any benefits.

"Some SOA projects are perceived to have failed when in fact there are simply no well established metrics to evaluate success," he said.

The pressure of such expectation, coupled with the promises of SOA technology vendors, were leading companies to over-spend on technology but under-spend from an organisational and governance viewpoint, Paolo Malinverno, research vice president at Gartner added.

"So they come to the conclusion that SOA is expensive and doesn't deliver," Malinverno said.

As a result, a Gartner report recommended organisations initially focus on achieving just one key benefit from SOA implementations at a time, to ensure expectations remain realistic and success is more accurately measured.

It said organisations could look to benefit from SOA by putting improved business process execution or faster growth business models in place, as ensuring faster time to market, shorter project lifecycles and by lowering the cost of application development and maintenance.

The researcher also said services being reused can be developed outside the business as well as internally, for data or document exchange, which in turn could create an overall shift in IT culture from new development to reuse.

"Organisations must measure and communicate the success of SOA projects continuously," added Pezzini. "If no-one knows what SOA is good for, it will be seen as just another fashion wave, and the SOA project will be at risk."

The Gartner SOA & Application Development and Integration Summit 2009 takes place on 24-25 June at the Royal Lancaster hotel in London.

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