As a lifelong football fan, I have long rued the ascendancy of the short pass. Ever since Joe Montana implemented the West Coast passing scheme to such glorious effect in 1980s, teams all across the league have adopted its principles—opting for shorter, safer completions at the expense of a potential big gain down the field. While no doubt effective, this risk-adverse philosophy also can be dreadfully dull to watch.

While SOA implementations are not a spectator sport, a variant of the question bedeviling football coaches—whether to play it safe or go for the end zone—faces insurance company CIOs moving toward a service-oriented architecture. At Insurance Networking News’ first annual Web Services and SOA summit, held in New York on Jan. 23, 2008, a rough consensus emerged that when implementing SOA, a stepped approach is often preferable to grander ambitions.

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