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The Death of SOA…again? How many times have I read this headline? I thought it died back in 2006 when it was mortally wounded and replaced by Web 2.0…which then, according to the pundits, itself perished in Spring 2008. It’s so hard to keep this stuff straight. The good news is you don’t really have to.

While the media is replete with proclamations about the state of technology movements and buzzwords, discussions such as these are merely academic. Why is this? It has a lot to do with the media’s lack of nuance. To those who opine on such matters, attention spans are short so often something is either in or out, big or small, paramount or irrelevant. Fortunately, that’s not the way the real world works.

I agree with Burton Analyst Anne Thomas Manes’ summation that services is where it’s at. I’ve always held that belief. I was highly suspicious when discussions of web services gave way to SOA because the conversation transitioned from a compact and tangible concept to a much larger and nebulous concept. Read achievable versus hard to achieve.

When companies turned their attention to the broader idea of SOA, the appeal of project-based implementations and small wins went out the window. SOA became a religion that organizations had to strategically adopt from the start otherwise its benefits were not to be had. I strongly disagree. While most organizations would love to strategically embrace SOA from day one and experience “spectacular gains”, in most cases it’s not a practical approach. Small implementations, lessons learned, quick wins and replication is a much more sensible path. Over time, as success builds upon success, services ultimately become the way business functions are exposed by an organization. Along with it come the registries, management and scaling layers required for broader success. Dare I say, these services and the methodologies used to design, develop and deploy them ultimately become strategic? I’ll buy that.

So if we’re bidding the term SOA a fond adieu, so be it. What’s in a name? But let’s go easy on the “SOA is Dead” and “…great failed experiment” language. The more these kinds of terms are thrown around, the more they stick with decision makers and are used against those fighting the good fight to implement services.