This month's column was written by Shashank Tanksali, the SOA practice manager at Wipro Technologies.

Ask 10 people in a room what they think a service-oriented architecture (SOA) is and you will in all probability get 10 very different answers. Like many of its technology predecessors, SOA has had more than its fair share of confusion. Many IT managers seem to believe that they understand service-oriented architectures, while others confess to their ignorance of SOA. However, even those IT managers who seem to understand the basics of SOA still have very different opinions of what comprises a service-oriented architecture. The root cause for the confusion seems to revolve around the extremely ambiguous term "service," which has different preconceptions in the minds of IT managers. What comprises a service is not universally agreed upon. There is a school of thought that believes that for an architecture to be considered a service-oriented architecture, all services need to be Web services. While Web services are definitely the predominant enablers for a service-oriented architecture, it is possible to achieve a service-oriented architecture without using Web services.

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