Many bankers and experts agree that there is an SOA skill gap among enterprise architects and therefore a shortage of qualified professionals to lead successful SOA implementations. "SOA isn't a specific product, but rather a highly-disciplined approach for improving corporate and IT agility," explains Miko Matsumura, VP, webMethods. "As such, it needs to be learned and practiced over time."
Fairfax, Va.-based webMethods, in conjunction with ZapThink, created the SOA Master Class Online to try to close the gap. "We hope the site will ... be a tool for visionary architects," Matsumura says. "While there's a genuine skill gap, ... among successful SOA implementations, there is almost always a visionary architect."
"One of the biggest trends for 2007 is the dramatic shortage of qualified architects for SOA implementation," adds Ron Schmelzer, a senior analyst at Baltimore-based ZapThink. "There are not enough skilled architects. ... People hope that products will give them services, but it's up to the people to do it. Companies are failing because of the lack of knowledge."
The skills and talents required of enterprise architects are not the same as those required of developers, Schmelzer points out. "Developers are good when given requirements, but not as good at figuring out requirements from an amorphous set of needs." Enterprise architects, however, must be communicators, simplifiers and economic magicians, and understand best practices, he asserts.
If these skills sound vague, one group is hoping to change that by creating better definitions for enterprise architects' core competencies. The SOA Consortium, established in early February, is working to establish a set of best practices for SOA implementations, institute technology standards and develop core competencies for enterprise architects. Leading financial institutions, including Bank of America (Charlotte, N.C.) and Wells Fargo (San Francisco), have joined the consortium to help shape its direction. **--N.F.