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Service-oriented architecture (SOA)

Overview of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)

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By applying a service-oriented architecture (SOA), IT and management take a user perspective on integration problems to tackle. In a SOA, IT builds a bridge between business management and information technology by means of business-oriented IT services. Instead of providing IT systems, IT departments are judged by the value they provide to business. These business services are designed according to specific SOA design principles and patterns and are built based on SOA specific techniques.

Service orientation is an evolutionary step building upon modularization, client-server architecture, and object orientation.

But what are the differences?

The former techniques mentioned above were used to support software structuring from the technical point of view. In contrast, SOA focuses on business-related issues.

SOA – Differentiation

While discussing service-oriented architecture (SOA), it is important to keep in mind that:

  • SOA is not the same as Web services – SOA describes architecture paradigms independent of concrete implementation technologies.
  • SOA is not a solution for technical problems – SOA being an architecture paradigm does not give any recommendations concerning the elimination of technical problems.
  • SOA is an individual approach – There is no such thing as «standard SOA». Enterprises have to customize the service-oriented architecture according to their needs and requirements.

SOA is a concept for structuring and using distributed features having different owners that are in charge of them. A service itself is just a mechanism to bring together a need and someone able to fulfil this need.

Objectives of SOA

SOA aims at achieving a commercial objective: information technology must become more profitable and must be further aligned with business requirements.

By means of services, the focus of information technology is directed in such way that the implementation of requirements will be faster, more reliable, and more cost-efficient.

Effects of SOA

A service-oriented architecture looks at an organization as a network of services. This is why SOA is relevant for all members of an organization, no matter at what level. The responsibility of initiating, supporting and actually realizing SOA implementation lies with the management, while all employees have to become acquainted with the details of this business management method according to their roles and responsibilities.

What is a service?

A service is a user-oriented function provided to users by IT. Users of a service only know the service interface as well as the service function, i.e., what the service provides or realizes. Implementation techniques are not relevant to users.

Even if the implementation method changes, the interface and function of the service always remain the same. This separation between interface and function on the one hand and technical implementation on the other protects users/consumers from unwanted effects caused by internal technical changes. Or, in other words: service consumers will never be affected by new implementation technologies.

ARIS Community & SOA

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