InformationWeek published a useful article that explores the challenges you’ll face in outsourcing business processes. The idea is that SOA — service oriented architecture — will let you rip apart any process into its component activities, hand those off to the developers best suited to program them (and thereby let you outsource that programming too — more easily), then tap into integrative technologies like XML to call on them as you need them in the business function.
Not so fast, writes Howard Baldwin, in “Business Processes Outsourced.” What happens when you have 15 different services sending messages to the system? What manages priorities among those messages? Who manages the integration of all the bits and pieces?
Yes, SOA does have its advantages, Mr. Baldwin points out. It can automate activities behind the scenes and provide cross-division and cross-company functionality that’s hard to achieve in traditional programming models.
But integration, testing and maintenance can prove “nightmarish” as well. In fact, one expert quoted — an attorney who has been negotiating outsourcing deals for a decade — suggests that companies make sure to have the ability to bring Web services back in house. That means understanding how the service was provided, what licenses it relies on and what IP rights are involved.
Because, right now, those organizations that expect to run on world-wide delivered services anytime soon are going to be the ones with arrows in their backs.