Now its certainly true that the valley does have a disproportionate impact on IT, its a pretty small strip of land to have given birth to the likes of HP, Sun, Oracle, BEA, eBay and Google. That is damned impressive. The problem is that when you are looking for really good small companies to work with I'd argue that the bullshit to content ratio is never higher than in the valley.
Recently I've been looking at companies in a few spaces recently, which unfortunately I can't go into, and I've started to come up with a valley weighting system of how to score a company before you even go and see them, this is for the small guys not the established guys
- Current Revenue
- Current Customers
- Projected Revenue
- Projected Customers
Now we factor in the valley factor
- In the valley - Bullshit factor = 5 year growth projection * 0.5 (i.e. if its 10x growth in 5 years, bullshit = 10)
- West Cost - BF = 5 years *0.3
- Mainland US - BF = 5 years * 0.25
- Europe - BF = 5 years * 0.2
- India - BF = 5 years * 0.15
The final BF then gives you the amount of convincing you should take in order to believe anything they say. If they have a BF of 1 then they need 1 reference for every point they make. If they have a BF of 5 they need 5 references.
Part of the reason for doing this is that these new companies often look shiny and its important not to get caught up in the hype. As an example of hype v reality its quite funny now to look at transmeta and ARM now. Back then in 2000/2001/2002 they were the darlings of the Slashdot crowd and when I went to the valley the talk was about how they were going to completely dominate then chip market. Meanwhile a tiny company in the UK which had been doing chips for years and growing strongly continually had made a move into licensing IP and moving into the mobile phone market. Now in 2008 their results look a bit different, revenue for transmeta in the 2nd quarter failed to break $400k revenue while expenses nearly hit $2m, ARM meanwhile struggled by with $128.1m revenue and a healthy pot of cash.
What has this to do with SOA? Well really its to do with T-SOA, WOA and all the other things out there. When you are looking at companies as part of a long term strategy you need to know that they are going to be around in 10 years time and still helping you evolve, otherwise you are doing something as a point solution and will accept that support and maintenance is your own problem. You also need to figure out whether that wonder technology really is amazing or is just some empty hype, the more amazing the claim, and the growth predictions, then the more evidence you should be asking for.
The other point is that what you are saying is that if you think their business model doesn't stack up but the technology does that you will need access to the technology when they go bust. This is why lawyers invented escrow if you want the tech but don't trust the model then make sure you get the rights to access the code (or other tech) for your own purposes if (when?) they go bust.
This is part of that shift about moving IT away from technology and into a business frame of mind, it means not following the hype but following the numbers.