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At its heart, SOA is about a fundamental restructuring of the software systems that have historically empowered our business successes.

Maximizing Your SOA Investment: Foundational Business Drivers

The Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) phenomenon that is receiving so much exposure in the IT and business worlds is also generating an amazing amount of confusion, misunderstanding, and skepticism. Yet, at its heart, SOA is about a fundamental restructuring of the software systems that have historically empowered our business successes. It is unthinkable to envision running a large enterprise without the power and speed afforded by computer automation! But at the same time, we have arrived at a basic dissatisfaction with the high total costs of ownership and the perception that the very business software and systems we depend on are proving to be inflexible and insufficiently responsive to constantly changing business realities.

Software engineering is now moving into a new era born out of the need to design systems with the same efficiency and success afforded by other engineering disciplines. Historically, we have turned to “middleware” to connect disparate systems in a point-to-point fashion, resulting in an inherently unproductive and reactive approach with prohibitive and budget-devouring costs. The software industry is now realizing that the inherent structural problems of delivering enterprise systems through middleware integration needs to be addressed through greater industry standardization, which over time will lead to more flexible and maintainable software architectures.

Central to this orientation is the concept of a Service—a reusable, discrete, core component of design, exposing its functionality via a well-defined interface, interacting across a communication infrastructure, which may be combined with other services to affect a business process. The same kind of architecture allows us to assemble cars or combine sub-assemblies to build a computer.

This paper sets the stage for a continuing series of SOA investment discussions. It establishes the compelling and sustaining business motivation forming the basis for a more solid understanding of, and believable basis for, the value of SOA. It will identify significant level-setting foundation issues to support the quintessential reason we engage in computer automation: the business need to continue to adapt, to be successful, and to survive. The emerging reality and greatest benefit of Service Orientation is that it provides the dynamic capability to create innovation for managing change and empowering competitive advantage.

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