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It's a pity that SOA as a concept when portrayed as an "Architecture" become an IT fixation. A word that has become a synonym for WS*, REST, ESB and if you are higher in the value chain then it's about Governance. The perspective, that these are just outcomes, is completely lost -- especially in the backdrop of the noise vendors make when touting their wares.

So is SOA just another IT concept that promises to replace existing ways of handling IT related problems? Or is it more to do with offering information to the business folks by providing services which they could possibly use at their discretion?

Well, before we discuss what exactly SOA is or what it represents, let's understand the various facets of information in an organization. If we see it from different perspectives, then one is the provider of the information, then there is a consumer for that information and lastly the means by which information is channeled to the consumer from the provider.

Here if you see, IT's purpose is just to provide the means for connecting the two extreme ends -- consumer and the provider and to bridge the gap IT has to establish a common language for communication between the two parties, which it solves with the help of accepted standards to facilitates this process and makes the communication intelligible.

But even then, the other element that further renders the process complex is the context from a business perspective; is the consumer getting the right information?

Consumption of information again is highly subjective -- As finance would view information related to purchase orders in a very different way than sales. One would be more interested in finding out whether the payment has been received and the other would look at understanding whether the customer is satisfied. Whereas the CEO may want to know if the payment has been received and the customer is happy as well. So now the question is how do you deliver information so that everyone is satisfied?

Well, this is where Service Orientation kicks in and from a conceptual perspective helps organize information in the form of a service with varying degrees of granularity to effectively provide the right information to the consumers.

SOA in a sense is much beyond the realms of technology as it's more of a thought process that helps in creating an environment to deliver required information to consumers with IT just being an enabler.

So I guess it's time for "SOA" to morph into "Soa" the verb.

With that in mind -- as a business executive -- ask yourself -- do you SOA?

About the Author

Soumadeep Sen has 18+ years of experience in IT and has been associated with product companies in the capacity of a Product Manager and VP of SOA practice to name a few. His main contribution has been in the areas of SOA, BAM, ESB as well as Operational BI. In the Open Source space he has contributed to Servicemix ESB and Synapse-WS Intermediary both products are from Apache foundation. Currently, he heads BizSensors which is a product company catering to SOA and Operational BI.

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