SOA, CMDB and Automation

Companies that have not yet invested in SOA should use this down market to explore opportunities in this area. The experience of SOA experts has been that SOA projects can often be self-funding. In other words, when well chosen, they can yield enough ROI that investments pay off very quickly in cost and human resource efficiencies. ROI comes from multiple areas, including more efficient development projects, opportunities for service reuse within and across departments, and ease of integration. Simplifying the technical challenges around integration with partners and customers makes it easier to offer new products and services that would not have been possible without simplified integrations.

Configuration management system investments are another. Configuration management databases (CMDBs) drive efficiency because they provide a “map” of IT and business investments and their relationships. Few of us would think of driving from New York to Los Angeles without a map. Nevertheless, most IT organizations still lack a comprehensive view of assets in context to the business services, configurations and users they support. In effect, support and asset management teams are flying blind. EMA consulting engagements have documented CMDB early adopters who have reported 200% to 400% ROI. ROI comes from multiple sources, including improved staff efficiency, higher service levels, and better control of the change process.

Investments in enterprise management products can also add efficiency. We are seeing an evolution of the marketplace in which products are driving more value than ever before. One intriguing capability we are seeing more of goes by multiple names—autonomic computing, dynamic computing, etc.—but involves driving the knowledge of human IT “experts” into management technology. Autonomic technology systems are capable of managing themselves or other systems, and enable IT organizations to improve technology support capabilities without necessarily adding headcount.

In short, now is a good time to seek IT investments that are self-funding and that position the business to take advantage of future opportunities for growth. Turning a “have-not” IT organization into one that is efficient and business aligned is difficult to do in a competitive marketplace. However, taking advantage of an economic downturn may very well be one way to turn a company around.

Julie Craig is a senior analyst with Boulder, Colo.-based Enterprise Management Associates (, an industry research firm focused on IT management. Julie can reached at [email protected]