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The Service-Oriented Architecture, considered a best practice for over two decades, is finally being embraced by many organizations seeking to increase business agility and decrease the time and cost of implementing new business solutions.

In an SOA, discrete business functions or processes are created as independent, loosely coupled services with standard interfaces which can be accessed by other applications, services, or business processes regardless of the platform or programming language. These services can be flexibly combined to support different or changing business processes and functions. SOA supports the creation of composite applications, which can be quickly assembled from existing and new services.

The Business Imperative for SOA

Business agility is one of the key business buzzwords today, and is showing up on business plans as a primary strategic goal. The need for agility is not new. The way business was conducted even a decade ago is not longer acceptable if a business wishes to remain competitive. The changes include how the business interacts with customers, how it manufactures goods, how it is organized and managed. The changes in business are fundamental and pervasive.

In both public and private sectors, in every industry, business cycles and the rate of change is accelerating. Globalization is one factor. There is no longer such a thing as business hours. In a global economy, business hours are 24/7. In the global economy, competition can arise from anywhere at any time. Companies need agility in order to respond to quickly to problems, seize competitive opportunities, and anticipate threats, problems and opportunities.

Adaptability is the ability to change direction quickly. This requires an adaptive infrastructure so business processes and rules can be quickly changed. It also requires an adaptive organization. People must also be adaptive and willing to change to optimize business processes and increase competitiveness. The infrastructure needs to support rapid change.

An agile organization is the combination of people, process and technology. Organizational structure, culture, process, and metrics must all be aligned to enable agility. Any misalignment can cause obstacles to agility and business optimization. SOA provides an adaptive infrastructure, which supports rapid change and business agility. Existing IT investments can be leveraged, reused and extended as modular services. New services can be quickly implemented to provide new business capabilities and solutions. Business processes and rules can be more easily changed without rewriting applications. SOA has been a known best architecture practice for three decades. It is now being widely adapted to provide business agility. The reason is clear. A rapidly growing number of enterprises are now making agility a strategic goal, and SOA is the best way to deliver a agile IT infrastructure.


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