Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Business Case for SOA 3

ZDnet blogger Joe McKendrick has uncovered an interesting difference of opinion between stakeholders in the US Government and Defense space about the viability of SOA, as described in the following posts:
The US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) seems pretty committed to SOA. The problem apparently lies with some large US contractors, who seem to think that this threatens a profitable line of business selling software to the Department of Defense. David Bryan, a retired general who is now a vice-president at Northrop Grumman Defense Group, says that "Industry is struggling to determine a sound business case for the SOA approach". [source:, Nov 8]

There are four things I want to say in response to this, which relate to the business case for SOA.

1. The Department of Defense evidently appreciates the potential of strategic-level or Enterprise SOA to reduce their IT costs and to improve the efficiencies and flexibility of their business. And if SOA enables the Department of Defense to get better value-for-money from its contractors, then this strengthens the business case for SOA within the Department of Defense. (DISA is clearly doing something right.)

2. If the Department of Defense insists on the SOA approach, then this will create a very strong business case for SOA within the ecosystem of defense contractors. (If you don't want the work, there's plenty others that do.)

3. SOA is not just a technological initiative, but carries significant changes to organization and governance, including procurement arrangements. Enterprise SOA is, in part, about commodity services - buying pre-existent capability - and minimizing the custom development.

4. There is a learning curve for defense contractors. To be successful in the enterprise SOA market, traditional integrators will have to change their business models from being dependent on big custom software development projects. But some are still loading their bids with software costs, according to DISA Procurement Director Evelyn Palma. IBM has already won a major supply contract under the new regime, and we might expect future contracts to go to the most SOA-literate contractors.

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