Feds getting comfortable with SOA

Federal agency program managers and other IT professionals are becoming well-acquainted with the concept of service-oriented architecture, even in cases where they are not using the methodology, according to a report issued yesterday by a coalition of SOA product and service vendors.

"We're starting to see that decision makers are starting to feel that choosing SOA is a safe decision, as opposed to feeling they are the first to foray into the technology," said Mark Zalubas, chief technology officer for Merlin International Inc. of Englewood, Col. Merlin leads the Merlin Federal SOA Coalition, which includes AmberPoint Inc. of Oakland, Calif.,
BEA Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., and Systinet Corp. of Burlington, Mass.

The study, titled SOA What? ? Who and What Is Driving SOA Adoption in the Federal Government?, conducted in July, was filled out by 196 federal IT specialists and managers last July. Fifty-six percent of the respondents agreed that SOA would benefit their agencies, even though only 22 percent reported successful SOA implementations in their own agencies.

"That was probably one of the big surprises in the study," Zalubas noted. "The success rate is not extremely high, but the [respondents'] ability to recommend it to others is very high. So they are seeing something in the technology that could be very useful."

Actually, only 17 percent of the respondents noted that they were involved in SOA implementations, and the vast majority of these implementations are taking place in civilian agencies. (The report did note that the Defense Information Systems Agency plans to release an RFP for an agencywide SOA soon). Of the possible uses of SOA, more than half of the respondents recognized it as a way to fuse discrete systems.

Last month, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards defined SOA as "a paradigm for organizing and utilizing distributed capabilities that may be under the control of different ownership domains," according to a recently OASIS-issued reference model for SOA.

Joab Jackson is a senior writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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