Are you confused about service-oriented architectures (SOAs)? Is the lack of a formal definition of SOA causing governance issues within your organization? After all, who's the primary stakeholder of SOA if it isn't defined? Don't be concerned; you're not alone. There are many individuals that have the same concerns and confusion as you - including me.It's easy for me to espouse the benefits of SOA and the return on investment for moving to SOA, but as an individual I cannot force my definition upon the industry, which leaves me at the mercy of definition de jure - same as you. I believe that if you review much of the literature that is available today on SOA, the common theme that emerges is highly biased toward software development. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a white paper or presentation on SOA from any software company selling SOA wares that doesn't illustrate the enterprise service bus linking together disparate business systems.

However, my efforts in producing an enterprise architecture (EA) for one of my clients has forced me to examine SOA from the perspective of the EA, which requires a very different mind-set than SOA from the perspective of IT alone. Because the EA is about strategy and organization, I had to clearly identify the aspects of SOA as it relates to the organizational hierarchy and business processes. It was through this effort that I began to focus on the A in SOA.

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