Most SOA implementations are now successful, with nearly four out of ten enterprises meeting all their goals and 60 percent meeting most of them.

That's according to a survey carried out by SOA governance company Amberpoint, which found that 38 percent of SOA installations met their targets. The company also found that just 1.5 percent of SOA projects ended in failure – a figure well below the industry average for all software projects.

Ed Horst, Amberpoint's VP of marketing was surprised by this particular result and could offer no explanation for it. He did point out that a number of respondents say that they had decided not to proceed with an SOA project, but even if these were taken into account, the number of failures still wouldn't reach five percent.

He could not explain why the failure rates were so low and couldn't say whether the respondents were implementing trial SOA projects for the more simplistic implementations. "Unfortunately, we didn't ask the supplementary question as to what type of projects they were doing. However, only 20 percent of the respondents were installing SOA in a single department implementation, so it seems that most of the enterprises were not taking the simple approach," Horst said.

One of the main themes to come from the survey was that SOA was no longer seen as being synonymous with web services. 58 percent of enterprises now include "non-SOAP" messaging (such as MQ or RMI) in their SOA systems, while packaged applications such as SAP are included in 68 percent of SOA systems.

Horst said the results showed that there was a new maturity in the market. What had changed was that people were no longer frightened of SOA and no longer believed that everything had to be designed up-front, he said. "The biggest problem that users faced was trying to design everything at once and trying to anticipate every single problem. While it is a good idea to do some design up-front, it's far better to implement something and learn from your mistakes."

He added that company was now thinking of making the SOA survey a regular event but said that he didn't expect to see a massive change in the figures for successful and unsuccessful implementations. "I'm not sure we can improve on that," he said. "In fact, I would expect to see a minor dip in the number of successful deployments."