Bick Group

David Linthicum

Subscribe to David Linthicum: eMailAlertsEmail Alerts
Get David Linthicum: homepageHomepage mobileMobile rssRSS facebookFacebook twitterTwitter linkedinLinkedIn


Related Topics: SOA & WOA Magazine

SOA & WOA: Article

Will SOA Reduce the Need for Developers?

If you think SOAs will reduce the need for developers, you're dead wrong

There is a lot of talk about how SOA will significantly lower the need for developers, thus the savings of SOA. This will be accomplished through the promise of reuse that's driving many toward the SOA light. However, I'm not sure we'll see a reduction in development with the advent of SOA, but perhaps rather a redistribution of talent in the longer term. At the end of the day, the reason for leveraging SOA is agility. Reuse and development savings are a secondary benefit, if they happen at all.

Truth be told, we've been considering the demise of the developer during many "hype phases" over the last 15 years. This included the "component development" phase where I heard not one, but three software executives in keynote speeches talk about how "applications would be assembled like Ford assembles cars, from prebuilt component parts," and thus, the need for fewer developers. The same goes for the distributed object phase, the intranet phase, and now here we are in the SOA phase. The issues are exactly the same, with perhaps the technology being a bit more compelling.

SOA, with all its rich, chewy goodness, has three realities to consider. First, it's something that really has not happened yet; people are talking about it, and in some instances, playing around with it, but true killer SOAs are few and far between right now. This is due to the fact that it's complex, a huge change in thinking, and those things take years to roll out in most enterprises. It's more about people issues than technology, by the way. Thus, it's too soon to understand what real savings will be realized from the use of SOAs. In other words, it's a bit early to think about how many developers we can fire.

Second, if history is a teacher, we'll find that we actually need more developers - at least at first - with the promise of savings through reuse in the future. However, we've yet to get reuse right with all of the past opportunities such as object-oriented development, distributed objects, and component-based programming, so we're assuming we'll get it right with this technology, standards, and approaches. I'm optimistic, but I'm also a realist here, understanding that true adoption runs about two years behind the hype.

Finally, the use of services over the Internet will create a new generation of developers who build services for applications they'll never see. They build portions of applications for use in many applications as services, typically delivered over the Web, and that industry will be huge. All you need to do is to look at the growth of the major service providers out there and the emerging Web services marketplaces. So, you guys who get fired by the enterprises will have better jobs in these emerging areas.

We're building SOA for many different reasons, including the savings on the development costs, but the primary focus of our SOAs should be on the notion of agility. The end result should be an architecture that's able to change with the needs of the business, and the more your business changes, the more value SOA brings to you. Not to beat a dead horse here, but that's the prize, and where SOA will make its real money for you.

The reduction in development costs will occur at the enterprise levels, but only after SOAs have been implemented and are systemic to the enterprise. This will take some time to accomplish with most businesses - years for many - before you can actually see development costs go down. Indeed, in the short term, development costs will go up.

In the future, more and more development will be occurring outside the enterprise, for consumption by the enterprise. This paradigm will provide even more cost savings, but the need for talented developers will always be there. These developers will be working on other things: service development, and perhaps for other companies, service providers and Web services marketplaces - making more money, I'm sure... that's a win/win as far as I'm concerned.

More Stories By David Linthicum

Dave Linthicum is Sr. VP at Cloud Technology Partners, and an internationally known cloud computing and SOA expert. He is a sought-after consultant, speaker, and blogger. In his career, Dave has formed or enhanced many of the ideas behind modern distributed computing including EAI, B2B Application Integration, and SOA, approaches and technologies in wide use today. In addition, he is the Editor-in-Chief of SYS-CON's Virtualization Journal.

For the last 10 years, he has focused on the technology and strategies around cloud computing, including working with several cloud computing startups. His industry experience includes tenure as CTO and CEO of several successful software and cloud computing companies, and upper-level management positions in Fortune 500 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years, and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including University of Virginia and Arizona State University. He keynotes at many leading technology conferences, and has several well-read columns and blogs. Linthicum has authored 10 books, including the ground-breaking "Enterprise Application Integration" and "B2B Application Integration." You can reach him at [email protected] Or follow him on Twitter. Or view his profile on LinkedIn.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
SYS-CON Australia News Desk 05/04/06 04:05:15 PM EDT

There is a lot of talk about how SOA will significantly lower the need for developers, thus the savings of SOA. This will be accomplished through the promise of reuse that's driving many toward the SOA light. However, I'm not sure we'll see a reduction in development with the advent of SOA, but perhaps rather a redistribution of talent in the longer term. At the end of the day, the reason for leveraging SOA is agility. Reuse and development savings are a secondary benefit, if they happen at all.

Gary E Smith - SOA Network Architect 03/06/06 06:03:06 PM EST

I agree, resources won't be reduced but will shift in two aspects:
1) More empahsis will place on resources who can better understand end-to-end business processes and less on specific technologies, and secondly
2) More emphasis will be placed on resources who can orchestrate and choreograph business services into business processes within and between enterprises.

Gary E. Smith
SOA Network Architect
SOA Networks