Editor’s note: Terri Grauer is a consultant and writer specializing in the application of network technologies to business challenges. Sanity Check is a regular feature on Mondays.
________________________________________________________________________________________”SOA related spending for software and services will reach $3 billion in 2005″, according to Yankee Group analyst.

IBM has created a new group within their Global Services Division focused on Services Oriented Architecture. HP and Accenture are both expanding their Services offerings into the SOA areas.

This is great news! But wait, what is SOA?

Who is providing SOA?

How do I get SOA?

How do I start selling SOA?

I need to get into this SOA market right now!

Quick let’s get our best folks on this SOA thing right now!

I started doing my research on Service Oriented Architecture. I looked high and low. Service Oriented Architecture sounded promising and I could only hope it was a break though combining technologies. I found a few very interesting articles.

One was titled ‘Service Oriented Architecture versus Enterprise Information Architecture’, oh boy, this sounded promising! I reread the article four times before I realized it was basically like October political fodder. (I admit I kept rereading it hoping I’d missed something. I kept hoping I’d uncover a nugget of wisdom in the text if I just kept going over it again and again.)

Basically several Madison Avenue guys and a few software executives had a few too many apple martinis together at the most recent Las Vegas event and wrote an article to create a new category. “May we present, Service Oriented Architecture, new for 2005.”

To the heart of the matter

Here’s the gist of it, lest I save the rest of you from wasting as much time.

Service Oriented Architecture, from this point forward called SOA, is basically a collection of ‘web based services which communicate with each other’. Nothing new here. It’s just web based services. The ASP model.

In comparison to traditional Enterprise Information Architecture, called EIA henceforth, which are all other proprietary non-web-based systems. So, much to my dismay “SOA” equal web based architecture and “EIA” equal every thing else. Got it? Good. I am just so, what’s the word, oh yeah, ‘disappointed. I thought I was going to have a whole new revenue stream there for a minute.

Maybe because I’ve been working with young companies (less than 7 years old) for the past 5 years, who have based their products and technologies upon the web and it’s platforms that the idea of Service Oriented Architecture isn’t ‘new or disruptive’.

Matter of fact, the idea of building large proprietary infrastructures of subsystems dependent upon other subsystems is foreign, arcane and absurd to most of the young guns I deal with on a daily basis. The CIO’s of these upstart organizations build ‘just enough’ IT into their companies to handle their needs, contract ASP for their applications, plan to scale quickly and then purchase the next level of service at a negotiated prices when needed.

Late to the game

On the ASP provider side of the coin, which is what we’re really talking about here, the big software companies are entering the game late. With this new term in the marketplace and press, companies like BEA Systems has entered the fray with their version of an ASP model for vertical markets like oil, gas, retail and financial services. IBM has also announced their Security SOA Management Practice that is based upon their own software product and will be a ‘web based’ asp model offering to clients.

Marketing 101, if you can’t be first in a category, create a new category to be first in. For the rest of us already loving the ASP world lets welcome the new web-based application services category for 2005 – “Service Oriented Architecture”.

Terri Grauer is a consultant and writer specializing in the application of network technologies to business challenges. She can be reached via email at terri@sandirect.com