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The old show business bromide, It took him 20 years to become an overnight success, can almost apply to Service Oriented Architectures.

SOA is not new. Its been around at least two decades. But its suddenly a hot topic, observed ebizQ Vice President for Strategic Services Beth Gold-Bernstein in the ebizQ webinar Maximizing IT Investments Through Service Oriented Architecture, part of the Managers Guide To SOAs series, sponsored by Magic Software.

For the past twenty years, she said, architects have known SOA is the most adaptable design. But vendors used to tell me, if you mentioned SOA, you increased your sales cycle by a year right there. No one wanted to know about SOA. They just wanted to know about solutions.

SOAs were difficult to build because no one could agree on the interfaces. No one was winning, Gold-Bernstein added.

Then came Web services.

Web services are the first universally-accepted interface, Gold-Bernstein pointed out. They are the standard that everyone finally is agreeing on. And this is really fueling the adoption of SOA from a technical point of view. Its enabling it.

SOA is an application architecture style, similar to the way a client/server architecture is a style, she explained. In SOA, the objective is to have loosely-coupled interactive software services. A software service is a business functionality thats packaged as a service that can be accessed from anywhere. For example, mortgage calculation. Any application can call the service, provide the appropriate parameters, and it returns the answer. You dont need to build a mortgage calculator for each application. A service can run on any platform. Its totally platform-independent. And it can be accessed from anywhere.

SOA enables reuse, because you can have these business services that arent directly tied into, closely coupled with, one particular application. In SOA, you have reusable components that communicate with each other through standardized interfaces. And this is really the key. The standardized interfaces. The Web services.

Why is SOA so hot today? Its really centered around business needs, Gold-Bernstein noted. It certainly seems as if the rate of change has accelerated beyond our ability to keep up. Agility is the new mantra that all businesses are striving for. Agility really means a combination of speed and adaptability: the ability to quickly respond to changes in the business environment, from competitive threats to evolving opportunities. To get there first. And to do that, the underlying infrastructure cannot restrain the ability to respond quickly.


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