If the proof is in the pudding than Service-oriented architecture (SOA) has turned out to be an abject failure, largely because it is not a product an organization can simply buy and install.
Adding to IT's misery is the realization that SOA products are still very immature, which has disappointed users, according to Gartner.
SOA will be used in more than 50 percent of new mission-critical operational applications and business processes designed in 2007 and in more than 80 percent by 2010.
SOA has dramatically grown in popularity, and adoption has expanded across vertical industries, geographies and organisation sizes.
However, the number of failed projects has also grown, organisations have discovered that SOA benefits have a cost and the challenges associated with its adoption have become more apparent.
Gartner analysts outlined the "dos and don'ts" for successful enterprise-wide SOA initiatives at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007: Emerging Trends, held in Sydney today.
Gartner research director, L. Frank Kenney, said new software products for SOA have hit the market, but given their immaturity, have disappointed users in terms of reliability, performance and productivity.
"SOA principles have been applied too rigidly, and this has led to unsatisfactory outcomes as projects became too costly and didn't meet deadlines," he said.
But it isn't all bad news as there are still plenty of enterprise success stories.
"Organisations should aggressively invest in SOA as it will rapidly become the architectural foundation for virtually every new business-critical application," Kenney said.
Moving to an SOA is usually motivated by significant changes in the business environment, he said.
"This need most frequently manifests itself in the context of a specific business unit, but often also at the corporate level," Kenney said.
"SOA adoption is greatly beneficial from the CIO's point of view. To keep pace with relentless business change, IT departments are constantly under pressure to deliver more in a flat-budget situation.
"SOA can frequently be part of the answer by providing a sound architectural framework to help CIOs address their challenges. However, SOA is not a product they can buy and install.
"In additional to adoption of new technologies, it requires changes in people's behaviour. Organisations looking to strategically adopt SOA should develop their business case on a combination of anticipated business and IT benefits."
The practical benefits of a well-implemented SOA are greater adaptability, faster time to deployment and lower costs for application development and integration.