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Telecom industry provides SOA contrast

I’ve been having an extended conversation during this calendar year about SOA and the telecom industry, namely that the European telecoms are often the reference models for what a service-oriented business looks like while U.S. telecoms seem to be mired in the 1990s.

Today we’ve got a curious development with the announcement of the OASIS Telecom initiative, designed to help businesses in that industry embrace SOA. It’s a fine idea and somebody needs to do it, but it’s the equivalent of the short bus. I can tell you who this isn’t aimed at: companies like BT and Deutsche Telekom. They get SOA. In fact, they do it as well as anybody on the planet.

This OASIS effort is geared toward U.S. telecoms and telecoms in emerging economies. It begs the question, “How did the U.S. get lumped in with emerging economies?” We’re talking about corporate giants which apparently require extra hand holding to help them do something that has already delivered for their overseas brethren.

As I’ve been talking with analysts, vendors and users this year about the telecom services in the U.S. market, I encounter a lot of head shaking. I keep hearing that the services available in Europe put to shame what’s being offered in the U.S., which they say mostly revolves around access rather than services.

Telecom is probably the industry most worth tracking to see how early SOA adopters are able to compete and respond to market changes as opposed to service-disoriented competitors. To be fair, there are some U.S. telecom companies that have pursued big SOA projects, but I have yet to run into anyone during the last four months, where this has been a running point of curiosity for me, who hasn’t said the U.S. is lagging behind in this industry (at least in terms of modernizing services delivery capabilities), particularly as applications incorporate more Web 2.0 technologies and unified communications.

Kudos to OASIS for trying to spearhead this sort of modernization, but the real point of interest for this observer will be watching the what happens with the telecom players who took the SOA initiative and gave themselves a head start.

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