You've been hearing about it more and more, so if you are new to service-oriented architectures (SOA) and want the full scoop but not ready to start connecting the dots between terms like BPEL, WS-Policy, and WSIF, then read this (free PDF) four-page overview from Nucleus Research.
The research firm, which bases its conclusions on real-world case studies, says that it is time to brush skepticism aside and recognize that the adoption of standards has made software reuse easier, and that first-movers have seen successful deployments and are know reaping benefits. The report gives a clear and simple definition of SOA; "SOA is the practice of building platform-independent pieces of software that are defined according to a specific business process and readily adapted for reuse,"along with several examples, plus an explanation of an effective deployment (business process driven, focus on reuse, robust use of metadata, loose coupling) and the benefits that an SOA can provide. For example, below is Nucleus's useful advice on designing for reuse:
Focus on reuse. Services built within an SOA framework should be constructed with an eye towards reuse in order to accommodate the incremental and repetitive nature of IT integration projects. For example, the SOA service that helps generate a single view of the customer may be required repeatedly as a number of subsidiaries and former acquisitions are sequentially integrated into an enterprise. While reuse is a benefit, it also requires and is accelerated by a cultural IT shift in which programmers — who are accustomed to building code from the ground up — create less code, but take on more projects. But reuse must be promoted, since it is the primary driver of ROI from SOA. Use of integration competency centers, reuse agents, and SOA registries — all discussed as best practices in a separate research note — are ways to promote broad and effective reuse.