More on SOA Pilots…

A friend of mine, Fred Domke, blogged about using a B2B scenario as an SOA pilot. In a previous posting, I discussed my opinions on what constitutes a good pilot. The key item that I mentioned was choosing something that will expose the organization to the cultural changes associated with becoming a service provider.

In this case, I don’t agree that a B2B scenario makes for a good pilot. I agree completely that B2B scenarios are great applications for SOA, but I don’t think they’re going to introduce an organization to the cultural changes. The first problem is that a B2B integration may not involve the cross-organizational concerns that arise. Of the case studies/presentations I’ve seen, the B2B integration scenarios only involved one organization (at least on one end of the integration). That organization was already acting as a service provider, so there is no culture change needed. Yes, there may be some inefficiencies in the integration processes, but outside of some incremental improvements, will the use of standards-based integration technologies in this scenario provide the results for an adoption of SOA across the entire enterprise?

I think there are far more problems on the inside of the firewall that require the cultural changes associated with SOA for resolution. Companies that are doing business together already know that they must work together. Ironically, sometimes it’s easier to get two companies to work together than it is to get two departments within a company to work together. By all means, apply SOA to your B2B integration scenarios. You’d be nuts not to. But to really see the benefits, it needs to be applied inside the firewall.

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