One of the most interesting, and neglected, stories to come out of SAP’s just-concluded TechEd event in Berlin was how slowly some end users are moving towards service-oriented architecture (SOA), despite the investment that SAP has poured into eSOA. Blogging on site, Andy Hayler noted one of the reasons why SOA adoption is still delayed, over half a decade after its appearance on CIO agendas. Hayler, founder of MDM vendor Kalido and now an MDM analyst, spoke to a German utility company running an SOA pilot, and noted how “difficult it is to do debugging across a Web services application which touches a whole series of different applications in its wake. If something goes wrong, then they have found it is a lot more fiddly to trace where exactly the fault lies, given the cross-application nature of the project.”
Normally, the cross-application nature of SOA is touted as an SOA advantage, so it’s refreshing to hear from an end user willing to offer a new perspective on SOA’s complexity. Hayler, for one, isn’t drinking the SOA Kool-Aid. He described the Germany utility company’s SAP project as “this is a project driven by the IT department as an exercise in proving technology, rather than one with a quantified business case.”
Given the current IT spending atmosphere, it’s a strong bet that the tolerance for sandbox-style projects is down. However, there are plenty of folks who think that SOA is very much about the business: consider Forrester’s latest SOA survey, which shows SOA adoption rising impressively, and globally.
To judge by SAP’s user base, SOA certainly has some momentum. TechEd Berlin’s Enterprise SOA Experience Workshop, priced at $1,000 per attendee, was one of the few sold-out conference activities. But what are the prospects for SAP end users to move beyond sandbox-style experiments and truly commitment themselves to SOA, a la Volkswagen? Our SAP expert on the scene, Axel Angeli, is going to be digging more deeply into SAP and SOA issues in the coming weeks. Watch for his guest blog entries for more insight.
Demir Barlas, Site Editor