Predicting the future… created a marketing opportunity for several vendors by asking a number of industry visionaries to tell uswhat to expect for 2006. Personally, I’d love to see Joe do the same thing with technology analysts. Most of them have posted their 2006 predictions, although I haven’t seen anyone roll them all up with appropriate analysis.

Back to the vendors predictions: my first reaction was that most of them (but not all) made statements consistent with their marketing messages. What’s good about this is that now we can compare them for consistency, inconsistency, etc. and see what conclusions can be drawn. Let’s start with the buzzwords.

  • ESB: Three people mentioned ESBs: Paul Patrick (BEA, they sell one), Paul Lipton (CA), and Bob Brauer (StrikeIron). All three extremes are covered on this one. Paul Patrick sees “an increasingly important role for ESBs” emerging. Paul Lipton dismisses ESB as an “excessive and inappropriately used buzzword.” Bob Brauer comes in the middle, merely stating that emphasis will shift from the infrastructure components to “actual solution building.”
  • Governance: This one had more press. Paul Lipton also classified “governance” as an “excessive an inappropriately used buzzword” but then said the new “excessive and inappropriately used buzzword” will be policy, which has clear ties to governance. Bob Brauer included governance in the list of items that had previously been emphasized. Andrew Nash (Reactivity) never used the word governance, but did discuss the need for standard semantics for policy-based management (we need semantics for the actual service definitions, too). Inge Cheng (Layer 7), stated that there will be “questions of how services can be governed consistently across application and organizational silos.” Miko Matsumura (Infravio) wins the award by titling his comments, “It’s About Governance, Governance, Governance.”

Looking for common threads across all of these, I see the following:

  • We’ve only begun our understanding of Governance. My own recent blog called out the confusion around development governance versus operational management or run time governance. Paul Lipton (CA) called out the same thing. Over half of the comments had something to do with governance, so it’s clear that there’s still plenty of life left in that topic.
  • Enterprise SOA adoption will still be few and far between. Andrew Nash (Reactivity) made some very conservative comments regarding SOA adoption, but stated that there “have been some real projects with real money behind them.” Wayne Ariola (ParaSoft) hit on a topic that hasn’t received much discussion, which is trust between service provider and consumer. The “not done here” mentality of many developers is a barrier to enterprise adoption, and until that culture changes, progress will be slow. Inge Cheng (Layer 7) calls out that most implementations have been at the project level, not the enterprise level. Miko’s (Infravio) comments on governance stressed that the barriers are “organizational, political, social, and regulatory.” These don’t change overnight. Paul Lipton’s (CA) comments are that there will be “an increased realization that SOA is more than an IT initiative.” This doesn’t say that the business side will get involved with SOA adoption in 2006, only that they’ll begin to understand that they need to be involved. All of these things point to a slow, conservative uptake. Andrew Nash phrased it well: “I’m not going to say that 2006 is the year where it will all happen. Rather, this is the start of a long-term, steadily increasing use of SOA.”

What would I like to see? I’d like to see some case studies on companies who are starting to show results from an SOA adoption that was formalized no earlier than 2003. Most case studies I’ve seen fall into two categories:
1. Projects that were well-suited for SOA and Web Services, but existed solely within a single domain of the business, eliminating many of the governance and management issues inherent to an enterprise adoption.
2. Enterprise scale initiatives that began prior to 2003, where the direction was clearly laid out by a CxO level executive to embrace enterprise architecture, system reuse, and elimination of redundancy. These typically only mention Web Services at the end of the study when they state that they are incorporating the use of Web Services and associated infrastructure into their environments.
Three years should be long enough to show some preliminary results across the enterprise, even if this was going on while business still churned along.

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