Panel: Why The Government Is Hesitant About SOAs

"In concept, it's a great idea, but [government] has all of this [technology] in place already," said Alex Hart, director of public sector channel sales at Symantec. "You can't flick a switch. It has to morph over time."

While the situation is improving, federal agencies continue to struggle with legacy hardware and applications. Rather than introduce an SOA solution that would require customers to rip and replace, solution providers should tackle one process or component of the infrastructure at a time, depending on their own skill sets and the immediate requirements of an agency, the panelists advised.

If a solution provider has had some success with document management using a SOA approach, Hart said, introduce that component to the government customer. "Become a subject matter expert in a fairly narrow area, and build the relationship with the customer based on that," he said.

That, in turn, will set the stage for future implementations.

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"The consensus is [SOA] is coming," said James Ensten, ProCurve Americas marketing manager with HP. "Think about it today, so that you're ready to implement [solutions] tomorrow."