Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SOA... is the answer as simple as "outsourcing it"?

Today's discussion on the ever-lively ebizQ SOA forum was inspired by the article Why I Outsourced Application Development to China on, which gives some lessons learned on IT outsourcing specifically related to SOA.

Hence the question on the forum: Does it make sense to outsource your SOA?

I think the following paragraph from the article is key to understanding the context of the question:

"...Tactically, Lee wanted to replace Interval's core applications and move to a service-oriented architecture (SOA). Strategically, she wanted to create an agile IT organization better able to respond to changes in the business. Outsourcing new application development to an offshore provider with experience in SOA and agile development would enable a quicker—and cheaper—transformation on both fronts..."

Two noteworthy points include:
  1. SOA was seen as a tactic for realizing the agile IT strategy.
  2. Only new applications were being considered for SOA.
So, while the approach Lee took might have achieved her vision, I have fundamental disagreements with both points above.

First, SOA is not a tactic but a long-term strategy for achieving an agile IT organization. In fact, most of the so called "failures" can ultimately be traced to a near-sighted, short-term approach to SOA.

Second, limiting SOA to only new applications and their development misses a primary benefit of SOA - the benefit of breaking down the highly fortified silos of functionality to create a more transparent, open, and collaborative IT environment.

So, in conclusion, while outsourcing application development definitely makes sense, outsourcing "SOA", in my view of the world, does not.

* Originally posted in the ebizQ SOA forum on December 15, 2010.

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