Thursday, February 23, 2006

SOA Benefits

Jeff Nolan asks the following question on his blog:
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what the benefits of a pure SOA application framework are. While the technical benefits are important, of equal interest are the actual end-user business benefits for companies investing in this technology.

I predict that the biggest benefits of SOA will not come from SOA directly. Just as the greatest benefits of the Internet did not come from IP. SOA will break up our applications and allow us to hook them up- that is the easy, obvious part. The real value comes from the 'community' or 'network' effect. Example: If TurboTax were to take on SOA, initially the users would see little benefit. But over a few years (or quarters), Independent 'service' providers will start building speicalized services for HSA (Health Savings Account), Tax Deduction tracking, real-time analysis of tax implications of your buy/sell decision on E-Trade, and so on. The same is true for big-giant-vendor's enterprise apps (SAP, Oracle, anyone else?).

The examples of what services would be interesting in this SOA ecosystem include:
  • background checks in HR process
  • provisioning new laptop, accounts, corporate credit card, discount on a car
  • In Finance, OFAC Compliance (don't-pay-terrorists-compliance) is available as a service that you can invoke from your Financial applications
  • Enhanced CRM functionality by showing customer profile by getting data from the internet or Dunn & Bradstreet
  • Check CDC alerts for drugs in the Prescription Applications used by Hospitals and Doctors
  • the list goes on.
The revolution will be in the way these services are composed together to deliver new functionality- the services themselves are rather mundane.

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