Most companies failing to grasp SOA

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The majority of business managers have little or no understanding of service oriented architecture (SOA) and the benefits it can bring, according to new research.

Although SOA is seen as a provider of a common language for business and IT practitioners, analyst firm PMP Research claims that many businesses are still far from reaching this point.

The majority of respondents to a PMP survey believe that their business has 'little understanding' or 'none at all' of SOA.

Only 10 percent of respondents believe that their business understands SOA 'quite well' and 22 percent pointed to a 'medium amount' of knowledge.

The consolidation and integration of disparate information systems is still a major challenge for 88 percent of companies, PMP said.

But while meeting the need for in-house integration and flexibility is demanding enough, there is now an increasing requirement to look outside the boundaries of the business and provide interactivity with systems run by clients, suppliers and business partners.

The research suggested that almost a third of respondents rated this as 'very important' or 'important'.

PMP found that SOA is becoming the "great white hope" in designing more modular and flexible IT systems.

A third of respondents to the survey have started to design and implement systems based on SOA principles, and a further 16 per cent are in the planning stage.

However, this still leaves a significant number of companies which have yet to embark on this route. Some 16 percent are planning to look at SOA 'sometime in the future', and 23 percent have 'no plans' to use SOA at all.

While SOA provides a range of benefits it also requires a different approach to designing and developing IT systems.

The respondents felt that it is not so much the technology implications of SOA that can provide problems, but the adoption of these new principles.

Ensuring that SOA practices are followed throughout the organisation is seen as a key challenge by 73 percent of companies, followed by defining and creating appropriate SOA services at 60 percent.

The latter in many ways goes hand-in-hand with the difficulty of defining business requirements and processes accurately, also mentioned by 60 percent of respondents.

PMP said that cost-justifying a move to SOA is also seen as a problem by nearly half of respondents, and the difficulty of managing a mix of third-party suppliers was cited by 42 percent.

Issues over system security are also a cause of concern for almost a third of companies.
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