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Code For SOA, Bank a Bonus

NEW YORK -- Want to get your developers on the stick about service oriented architecture ?

Money might help. At least one bank is, well, banking on bonuses as one way to get developers on the SOA express train.

At the SOA Executive Forum here, Tony Bishop, svp for Wachovia's corporate investment banking technology group, said the bank is adding bonuses for developers who actually make a go at SOA adoption skills.

After all, SOA may be considered still in its infancy, but companies are aware of the cost savings and competitive advantages of deploying one.

The program is part of a bid to vault Wachovia into the top tier of U.S. investment banks.

The term SOA is shorthand to describe an application architecture in which functions or services are defined using a description language and have invokable interfaces. But the real shorthand is that it helps get applications talking and sharing data with eachother -- in just the right amounts that they need.

So how to inspire developers to push these SOA projects through?

Wachovia has established what Bishop called an "educational approach" to overcoming turf wars that often crop up in change management projects.

He said annual bonuses for developers are determined in part by participation in monthly learning forums and Web-based seminars, as well as contribution of artifacts to a repository of services, and re-use of components.

"Both behaviors are going to get rewarded," he said. "You need people contributing and you need people reusing, or you'll never get the true benefits of a service-oriented enterprise."

Finally, he said, process and behaviors have to be tracked in an automated manner.

"You cannot not invest in this if you want to be successful. Spreadsheets and manual tracking will kill you," he said, pointing to a dawning era of distributed computing that makes data more dynamic across the enterprise, and easier to track.

Bishop described an intricate roadmap for implementing SOA through 2008. By then, the company expects to realize 40 percent cost savings in its enterprise networks.

More important than those savings, though, is the competitive advantage that Bishop said the company expects to derive from the architecture.

"The principal objective [of the SOA project] is reduced time to market for new products," said Bishop.

Several times during his presentation, Bishop returned to his main theme: SOA must be married to business processes if it is to deliver on the promise of a service oriented enterprise.

He said the bulk of significant benefits will be felt in 2008, when "we will be in a position to help the business differentiate itself through our IT platform."

Bishop has certainly been given the means to accomplish those ends. His organization has been able to double its IT staff, adding 400 new employees over the past 18 months. In addition to an annual operating budget of between $250 million and $300 million, Bishop has another $100 million to spend on developing Wachovia's SOA.

To put this in some kind of perspective, consider that the average budget dedicated to SOA among companies surveyed by software vendor BEA Systems and IDG Research is $2.1 million, according to Bruce Graham, senior vice president and SOA Practice Lead at BEA Systems.

Of course, Wachovia is not a typical organization. It is the fourth largest universal bank in the U.S. and the country's number six investment bank.

Bishop outlined an implementation schedule that goes from an overarching view of the organization and its goals for the development of a service-oriented architecture, to the step-by-step development of services along the way. One critical component of this development is a process for cataloging services as they are developed so that they can be easily found and reused.

Another part, it appears, is offering developers tried-and-true incentives: cash bonuses.