What is an SOA Service?


It seems impossible to avoid SOA in the IT-related media today. Service Oriented Architecture is definitely all the rage, but amazingly there is still considerable confusion around what exactly SOA is. Just about everyone agrees that SOA is an architecture designed to offer access to IT programs and data in the form of shared, reusable services, but looking through the panoply of media articles from press and analyst sources it becomes clear that people have different views over what these services actually are that make up a service-oriented implementation.

The three most common conflicting definitions of these SOA services are:-

  • An SOA service = a web service (as covered by the WS standards)
  • An SOA service is a program or part of a program with a standard definition and invocation model
  • An SOA service is a discrete business operation, underpinned by the IT implementation

The first thing to note is that clarifying the proper definition of an SOA service is not just an irrelevant academic exercise. Rather, it is fundamental to understanding SOA and what it can do for business. Each of the definitions above would actually result in a completely different type of architecture in terms of the benefits it would or would not bring.

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With so much confusion over the definition of an SOA service, which is correct?

This Insight looks at the subject of much confusion int he SOA marketplace – what exactly is an SOA service? The paper looks at some of the sources of confusion, and concludes with the correct definition.


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