Multiple Stack Complexity Vs SOA Simplicity

Over the last several months in customer assignments associated with deployment of BI web services and Data Integration web services I keep running into the same problem that everyone seems to be struggling with when it comes to implementing a Service Oriented Architecture.

That problem is one of multiple integration stacks. As I consult on a Europe wide basis I find this problem everywhere. Companies want to standardise on a single common set of infrastructure software which includes common BI infrastructure (gradual evolution to common BI platform) and common Business Integration infrastructure (portal, process management, ESB, ESR, single sign-on etc.). Yet as they buy packaged applications particularly from SAP and Oracle and upgrade to Office 2007 only to find SharePoint coming in though another door, they find themselves with multiple software infrastructure stacks in the enterprise and additional complexity they had not planned for. Plugging together multiple stacks was not on the original agenda. Do you recognise this problem?

It seems strange that the attraction of SOA is simplicity and flexibility and yet as you try to get closer to that you end up with more complexity. BI and data integration services in a SOA are much sought after but I found myself recently having to deal with questions like “Which enterprise server registry should we use for managing BI services?” and also “should we define our business processes on our IBM WebSphere BPM software or the SAP Netweaver BPM software or the Oracle Fusion one?”

There are many more of these kinds of questions that companies are struggling with at present. It seems that vendors are forcing additional infrastructure on enterprises rather than offering flexibility to run on the infrastructure of choice that the customer wants. Yet the business case to executives is that SOA is needed because it facilitates consolidation of IT infrastructure to reduce complexity and total cost of ownership. As one executive said to me recently “I am struggling to see the benefit”. I must admit that I found it difficult to disagree with him.


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